Divorce FAQs

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1. Can the Coronavirus Affect Custodial Rights? How Divorces and Parenting Time May Be Impacted

 *In Maryland custody and visitation order remain in place during this pandemic. However, if either parent is at risk with a compromised immune system or the child has a medical issues (i.e. asthma), then the parents should work out alternative means for access (FaceTime, Zoom, controlled environment, etc.). If this is not possible then the parents should work out “make-up” time for a safer/later date. There is no formula for when access is or can be safe in each particular case. However, the goal is for each parent to maintain contact in one form or another. In D.C., it is a similar situation. The main goal is the safety of the minor child(ren).

2. Can I Proceed With Divorce if a Stay at Home Order is in Effect?

*The short answer is yes you can proceed with a divorce. However, the court is working with minimum staff and it may not be processed as fast as it would ordinarily be processed (a summon is normally issued within 10 days of filing). However, if you can file a divorce with a full global agreement with your spouse, the court is proceeding with uncontested divorces and NOT requiring the parties to come to the court house. To that end, see the mediation blog for A SMARTER DIVORCE MEDIATION SERVICES.

3. Will I be Able to Meet With my Divorce Attorney During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

*Yes. FaceTime and Zoom have been used often and work is still being done to advance cases.

4. Facing Child Custody Concerns During the Coronavirus Pandemic

* The court will probably not deal with issues of access during this time. This court is dealing with emergency motions and access issues will normally not be dealt with as they are not considered “emergencies.” There are instances where access could be considered an emergency (i.e. one parent wants to travel, the child or parent has underlining medical conditions, etc.). However, this is dealt with on a case-by case basis. It is probably best to consult with an attorney about your particular fact scenario and issue.

5. Does a Lockdown or Stay-At-Home Order Affect My Custody/Possession Schedule?

*Parents can adjust the schedule to meet the child’s medical and/or emotional needs. If the parents cannot work out an alternative parenting plan then they can seek mediation. Usually, any time lost can be made up at a later date. The last thing kids want is parents fighting about them so do everything possible to come to an agreement that you can live with and that meets the safety needs of the child.

6. What If the Other Parent Is in Another State? Can I Still Exercise Time With the Kids?

*Yes, if there is a court order, you can travel across state lines.

7. I Lost My Job Due to COVID-19. Do I Still Have to Pay Child Support?

*Obviously, if your income changes then your child support can change. However, please be aware that child support ONLY CHANGES BACK TO THE DATE THAT YOU FILE FOR A MODIFICATION OF SUPPORT. The court is accepting child support modification petitions. You may not get a hearing right away but you are filing to make sure that any modification which does occur can go back to the date of filing. It is best to file for a modification as soon after you have a loss in income.

8. Do we have to follow the Parenting Plan if we, as parents, agree that to a different plan would be better for our children during the Coronavirus?

*It is assumed that parents know best for their children. If the parents can agree on an alternate plan then the court will not stop that change. The change should be in writing (an email is fine) and it should state if it is temporary change of=r meant to be longer term.

9. Mom and Dad share parenting time 50/50. Mom is in a high-risk group for Coronavirus.  Dad is not practicing social distancing with the kids; they play with neighbors and go to stores.  What can Mom do?

*Consult with an attorney. These are very fact specific situations. 

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