There’s no question that the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic turned our nation inside out, forcing us to quickly adapt to a new version normal. The global pandemic wreaked havoc on divorce, custody, domestic violence and other family law cases – to say the least. With widespread panic and quarantining, parenting agreements were all shook up. Couples that were forced to spend more time together suddenly found they no longer wished to be married. Domestic violence cases saw a dramatic spike all across the United States. And despite the fact that some things are starting to return to normal, it’s safe to say that it will likely be a long time before we return to a post-COVID normal.
Divorce During COVID-19
The pandemic left many couples questioning whether their marriage would survive the pandemic. In fact, there was a sharp uptick in the number of people querying the search engines for divorce throughout COVID-19.
The Daily Record reports that “As states reopen, the U.S. could see a spike in divorces, although some lawyers currently report a decline in new clients.”
Custody and Child Support Complications
In mid-March, almost the entire U.S. came to a stop. Schools and childcare centers were closed. Many businesses were forced to shut leaving millions wondering how they’d be able to afford their bills or even child support payments. For those parents who were essential workers, who would be able to watch their children? And how do you keep the germs away from your precious kids? Some healthcare workers found it necessary to choose between working and parenting; many opting to work and self-quarantine while their child stayed with their other parent.
Financial hardship had many seeking government assistance after being furloughed or even laid off as a result of the pandemic. Despite it all, they were still expected to pay alimony and/or child support. The Courts were closed to everything with the exception of emergency hearings, leaving many parents without relief for those payments or battling with their ex over custody arrangements.
The Daily Record reported “The Maryland Judiciary announced in April that visitations, custody agreements and court orders should continue despite stay-at-home orders, meaning parents would need a compelling reason to forgo existing arrangements altogether.”
In Maryland, once alimony is terminated, it’s done, and eliminating support altogether could potentially create long-term issues.
“Many lawyers are suggesting that their clients opt for a reduction, but some job losses are only temporary and likely to dissipate well before any scheduled court dates. Some hearings or trials will likely be pushed to 2021 since the court has just begun resetting dates for lengthy trials,” said Shelly D. McKeon, a family lawyer based in Montgomery County.
*Since publication of this article, the Court reports they have rescheduled approximately 90% of cases.
“You need a modification, but if you go to court, you’re looking so far down the line that when you get to that point will you have the same circumstance or will everything be back to the way it was,” she said.
Experienced Family Law Attorney in Montgomery County, Maryland
For help with your family law matters, you’ll want an experienced attorney by your side. The McKeon Law Firm has been expertly representing clients throughout Maryland for matters of child custody, divorce, alimony, child support and much more. Get in touch today to book your consultation with one of our attorneys by sending us a secure message via our website or by calling 301-417-9222.