Family Law and COVID-19

Family Law and COVID-19

Working from home during the coronavirus pandemic has created challenging circumstances for most businesses and families. Dealing with the stress caused by juggling the responsibilities of COVID 19homeschooling, teleworking, providing for your family, avoiding exposure to the virus and the lack of daily separation from family members can be overwhelming on a good day. The saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder” has never been so meaningful.

Individuals who were contemplating separation or divorce before our communities were asked to shelter in place are facing especially trying times. Living in close-quarters with the individual you no longer want to be married to is not ideal. If you also have children, the daily struggle of having to coordinate schedules, homeschool and otherwise care for your children may be exacerbating an already difficult situation. As a result, you may be wondering what legal information and options are available to you during this time of isolation.

Our attorneys are continuing to work with clients, old and new, who are seeking to divorce, modify or obtain spousal support and/or child support, resolve issues related to the custody and visitation of children and other family matters. Attorneys are available for telephone and/or video consultations and will provide information and solutions specific to your family situation. Consultations can be requested here or by calling the office and leaving a message.

Individuals who have negotiated settlement terms with a spouse may begin working with an attorney to draft a settlement agreement or consent order which resolves all pending matters.

Individuals who need court intervention continue to have access to Virginia courts, although civil court hearings will be delayed absent an emergency. (The majority of family law matters are civil in nature.) This is because the Virginia Supreme Court has issued two Orders Declaring a Judicial Emergency In Response to COVID-19 Emergency. As of this writing, the current Order directs all local courts to suspend non-emergency civil hearings through April 26, 2020. It is widely expected that additional Orders will be issued by the Supreme Court extending the suspension of non-emergency civil hearings through June 10, 2020, in keeping with Governor Northam’s Executive Order 55. Information regarding each of the Northern Virginia Circuit Courts can be found below.

Arlington County https://courts.arlingtonva.us/circuit-court/
Fairfax County https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/circuit/coronavirus

City of Alexandria https://alexandriabarva.org/
Loudoun County https://www.loudoun.gov/97/Circuit-Court

Although the courts have suspended all non-emergent hearings, local courts are continuing to
accept new case filings and motions relating to existing cases. The circuit courts are also
allowing attorneys to appear telephonically to reschedule hearings and schedule hearings and
trials on new cases. Given the unprecedented suspension and expected delay of court hearings
for more than two and a half months, it is inevitable that the courts are going to be overwhelmed
and backlogged when court hearings resume. In this regard, filing now allows you to take
advantage of the opportunity to schedule a hearing or trial before the court returns to business as
usual.

For those individuals in need of emergency assistance and intervention the courts remain open
and accessible. To date, some examples of civil emergency hearings that have been granted by
the courts in family law matters include a parent withholding custody and visitation in violation
of a court order, a parent withholding access to a child where there were no court orders
regarding custody and visitation and individuals in need of immediate financial relief and
assistance due to business closures.

Rest assured that resources remain available and ready to assist you during this challenging time
and you are not alone. We are here to answer your questions and address your concerns.

This article does not constitute legal advice. If you have questions regarding your specific case or circumstances, consult with your family law attorney.
Family Law and COVID-19
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Mullett Dove Meacham & Bradley, PLLC is ready to answer all of your questions. A personal consultation will give you the understanding you need to make informed decisions about your future.

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