Family Law FAQ’s
1. I was laid off because of coronavirus. Do I still have to pay child support?
Yes. The coronavirus has led to a historic number of unemployment claims. While you may be able to seek a modification of your child support order due to your decreased income, your current order will remain in effect until you modify it. There may be ways that you can maximize your income in the meantime, such as applying for expanded unemployment benefits available under the CARES Act.
2. How are stimulus checks divided between spouses who are getting a divorce or just got divorced?
Couples who filed married filing jointly may receive up to $2,400 in the current economic stimulus payment structure if they do not exceed certain income thresholds and meet other requirements. If you have not yet gotten divorced, you may want to include instructions in your agreement about splitting up these funds. The $500/dependent check will go to the parent who claims the child on their income tax return.
3. Do we have to follow the parenting plan if we agree to other terms during the coronavirus?
Parenting plans are designed to be flexible while providing consistency for children. Many of them contain provisions about making changes as circumstances change, such as the parents must make these changes in writing or that they should use the mediation process to resolve differences. If you use mediation to reach a new agreement, you can present this agreement to the court to make a formal modification of your order.
4. Is my parenting plan still in effect during coronavirus social distancing?
Yes. Parenting plans and other court orders are still in effect during the pandemic. You may want to make slight adjustments in how you interact with the other parent to adhere to social distancing guidelines, such as not coming in close contact during exchanges.
5. I share parenting time with my ex equally. I am at high risk for coronavirus, but my ex is not following CDC guidelines. What can I do?
If you believe that your ex may jeopardize your health, you may be able to talk to him or her first to express your concerns. Mediation can allow you to have better communication with your ex and allow you to present your concerns respectfully. Through the guided assistance of an experienced family mediator, you may be able to make changes to your plan that meet both of your needs while focusing on the best interests of your child.
6. We have equal parenting time.I am concerned my ex is not following safety protocol during their parenting time. Can I file something with the courtto make them comply?
While you may be able to file a petition to modify your parenting plan, Indiana courts are largely working on a remote basis and are phasing in non-emergency cases. However, you may experience delays due to COVID-19. It may be possible to modify your plan with your ex through the process of mediation until you can make a formal charge with the court.
7. I have primary custody and live in Columbia City. Their father gets the kids when school is out. Since school is currently not in session in Columbia City,does he get them now?
Check the particular language of your parenting plan to see if there are provisions that address this situation. While school may be physical “out,” most schools are conducting distance learning, so the school schedule may need to be followed if there is no language to the contrary. However, if your child finishes assignments early, you and your ex may be able to work out an alternative plan for parenting time.
8. I am an unmarried father and have a written parenting agreement to share 50-50 parenting time with my ex. She said she is not going to let me see my son during coronavirus. Can she do that?
The coronavirus pandemic has created a lot of unease. Many parents are grappling with what they should do to protect their children during a global health crisis while also honoring court orders. Others may be taking advantage of the situation to get the amount of parenting time they want. It is important to work together with your spouse. Mediation may be able to help you resolve this problem without having to resort to litigation.
9. What can I do if my ex refuses to let me see my kids because of COVID-19?
The first thing that you should do is to try to communicate with your ex. Provide a written request to see your child and outline when your parenting time was not provided. You may also want to consider mediating the matter so that the problem can be resolved more quickly than it would if a court date had to be scheduled.
10. How can we safely handle exchanges with social distancing? How will supervised visitations be affected?
Check with the court on how supervised visitations are occurring. You may need to make alternative arrangements if an organization assists with these visits and they are closed due to the pandemic. You may be able to conduct your visit over phone calls or videoconferencing.
You can take protective measures to make exchanges safer by limiting contact with the other parent and minimizing the number of people who show up for exchanges. You should also avoid sharing your child’s items during this time, if possible.
11. Will grandparents lose court-ordered visitation because of coronavirus?
Court orders are still effective during the pandemic. However, if you are in a high-risk group, you may want to make alternative arrangements during this time, such as postponing visitation or conducting visitation over the phone or videoconferencing. Mediation may be able to help you and the parent reach an agreeable solution.