How the Lockdown Affected Custody Battles

a little boy and a little girl

One of the more peculiar aftereffects of the coronavirus pandemic was the alarmingly increasing rates of divorce. Yep: more people got divorced during the pandemic than they did otherwise. In fact, it is even expected that divorce rates will rise even further after the pandemic is over. A divorce boom—as the BBC puts it—is in order.

Well, we can’t blame them. But there’s always bad news with the good. And here, the bad news is this: custody battles.

And those were seriously affected by the lockdown.

Difficulty Navigating Visitation Rights

Physical distancing was right off the charts once the world went into lockdown mode. Parents who were living with joint custody had to face the greatest complications. Emergency motions, travel restrictions, even unemployment—all became ab eventual roadblock.

Many couples who have been living separately had to face the ultimate question as lockdowns began: do we still allow our spouse to exercise their visitation rights? Of course, it’s a right—and it would be quite wrong to disallow that right, right?

Continuing Litigation

a sad woman

If visitation rights weren’t already an issue, some were dealing with litigations in process. Spouses can now file ex-parte motions, stopping their ex or separated spouses from visiting their children on the grounds of contagion fears.

Issues for Healthcare Workers

Healthcare workers already have too much on their plate to deal with: they are dealing with COVID patients on the frontlines, are directly exposed to the virus, and have extended work hours.

Add drawn-out custody battles to the mix, and you have a series of unfortunate events on your hands. With healthcare workers facing custody battles, what makes it harder is the fact that their exes can easily file for ex-parte motions. The scales aren’t tipped in favor of healthcare workers, and that makes everything a lot worse than it already is.

Coronavirus or Control?

Many exes who have tried to take undue advantage of the whole situation have acted as if the reason behind their reluctance to go ahead was the coronavirus. But was it really? Is it about the coronavirus—or about control?

More often than not, it’s about the latter. In the pandemic, family lawyers have also witnessed a sharp rise in emergency custody motions. Most of these have emerged due to battles for control—because it’s often a fight for control, not for custody.

An Oklahoma-based worker lost custody rights to her children earlier in the pandemic due to the same reasons—coronavirus fears. Dr. Theresa Greene’s husband filed for an emergency custody motion when she began taking care of coronavirus patients. Eventually, she lost custody of her four-year-old daughter. She did appeal the motion—and that, of course, takes time and money, which not many can afford in these times.

Facing Custody Complications Due to Coronavirus?

The Law Offices of Ledwidge & Associates, P.C. extends Family Law Services Queens, Brooklyn and other parts of  New York. If you are in the Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Long Island, and Bronx regions, you can reach out to us for legal counsel and help.

 

Child Support by Agreement

When a couple with children is in general agreement on custody and child support, the best family law advice may be to document that agreement and ensure it meets the basic requirements to be approved by the child support court. In New York State, there are two ways to complete that process.

We will review both paths to reaching a child support agreement, what guidelines such an agreement should follow, and how to get the help you need to have your agreement approved.

Reaching Your Own Child Support Agreement

Cute little girl with dad leaning over vegetable counter.

When a breakup is civil and both parents are willing to work out all details of their proposed child support plan, this is commonly referred to as “informal negotiations.” They might engage a child support attorney to put their intentions into a legal format and advise them on any changes needed to have it approved by the family court.

Taking this route can keep legal costs to a minimum while protecting the best interests of the children. Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, the parents might become stuck on one or more key points and need more help to reach their goal of a mutual child support agreement.

Engaging Expert Help to Reach a Child Support Agreement

When both parents would like to create an agreement but struggle to do so on their own, they can choose Alternative Dispute Resolution or ADR. This process uses tools such as mediation—where a professional mediator works with the couple to resolve the obstacles, or collaborative law—where their respective lawyers negotiate the key factors together to reach a child support agreement before going to court.

So, even if the parents cannot reach an agreement themselves, they still have an opportunity to have a say in the outcome by resolving their disagreements through the ADR process. A family law consultation is a good way to begin this procedure and find out more about the resolution tools available to you.

What Should a Child Support Agreement Cover?

Woman lifting baby into the air.

Each state has guidelines which cover minimum requirements for child support, as well as requirements to get custody of a child. When crafting your own agreement, it will have to be in line with state law, fully outline the details of payment amounts, frequency, and duration, as well as being a voluntary and informed choice for both parents.

These factors must be true and documented:

• There is an open court case between the two parents.
• Both parents are aware of their child support rights and state guidelines.
• The parents both consider the agreement to be in their children’s best interest.
• Neither party is currently on (or has applied for) public assistance.
• Both parents enter the agreement of their own free will, without being forced or pressured to sign.

Finding Legal Guidance for Child Support by Agreement

Reaching a mutual agreement about child support has the same legal backing as court-ordered child support, once it has been filed and approved. The process for changing the order or for child support enforcement remains the same.

With 32 years of collective experience in Jamaica and Queens NY, the Joseph A. Ledwidge PC law firm knows how to draft agreements that will be approved by the appropriate authorities. When you need a family law attorney who understands your mutual desire to reach your own agreement for the security of your children, call us to get started.