The holidays can be difficult for families at the best of times. With the time confined at home, the financial strain, and all the pressures of the festive season, more family law issues crop up than any other time of year. This year not only has the coronavirus pandemic created fresh problems in areas like child custody and financial support but cast doubt on the court processes that can usually be relied upon to resolve issues.
Child arrangements in a blended family are always a minefield over the Christmas holidays, but with local restrictions, disrupted travel, and health concerns, it's harder still. Some NJ schools still expect children to go in, while others have gone entirely virtual, with all the knock-on effects on childcare that come with that. One parent might be confident they offer a more COVID-secure home than another for the child. The other could be in contact with vulnerable people and therefore bound to stricter safety measures. Parents traveling from outside the state could still face a 14-day quarantine. Co-parenting in the pandemic has to be proactive, not least in making holiday arrangements with safe-guards to stay healthy in this time, but also planning ahead should one parent need to take sole custody in the event that the other should fall sick.
Uncertainty at Home
All these new uncertainties have created an atmosphere of non-compliance. With people worried and knocked out of their usual behaviors, and parents disagreeing over how best to deal with their children, there is a higher risk of court order violations. In this fevered atmosphere, it is best to stay calm and remember that angry conflict, however well-intentioned, is not in your child's best interest.
COVID-19 has hit the economy hard, and with millions of Americans out of work, a growing number of parents have found themselves suddenly unable to make their child support payments. Delays in the family court have made making amendments harder; however, just as non-compliance with agreed custody arrangements, non-payment of child support can become a criminal matter if unresolved. Therefore, it is vitally important that parents address disputes between them as soon as possible before these issues escalate.
Delays in the Family Courts
After a short lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak, New Jersey courts have been back up and running since June 22, 2020, albeit under restricted rules. However, there have been significant delays, particularly in the family courts, and long wait times have left unprepared families in compromising situations. What's more, pandemic courtroom restrictions have not been uniform across the state, making it even more important to be well-informed and aware of these challenges from the outset.
We Can Help
The disruption of COVID-19 has created new family law problems at a time when the overburdened and backlogged family law system is least equipped to handle it. Still, you should not let that dissuade you from seeking assistance.
Though many courts are on reduced capacity, dedicated attorneys like Joseph D Lento are still working around the clock to ensure families get the representation they need. Nothing is more precious than family life, so if disputes threaten yours, don't invite further delays and get expert advice early. Contact us online or call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.
See Part Two of this post here.