Forrester Law addresses some Covid-19 frequently asked questions regarding family law matters.
Q: Is Forrester Law still open and operating?
A: Yes. We are deemed an essential business and we have remained open since all this began. We are accepting new clients, and working on current/pending matters. Our firm has taken all necessary precautions to stay safe during this time. Currently we are utilizing a variety of video conferencing measures such as Zoom, Google Duo, Facebook video messaging and Skype. Please contact us with any questions or concerns.
Q: Is divorce/ family court closed?
A: The state courthouses have temporarily closed for nonessential cases. However, the courts have remained open for emergency matters, such as domestic violence and child custody emergencies. The clerk’s office is still accepting filings and we at Forrester Law are still filing pleadings, motions and new matters.
Q: Can I still file for divorce, modification, contempt or other related matters?
A: Yes. The courthouses are accepting electronic filings of new divorce and custody actions, among other actions. Under certain circumstances, the clerk will receive paper filings as well. Forrester Law is actively filing matters every day in both open cases as well as new cases.
Q: What do I do if my ex refuses to abide by the custody orders?
A: The general consensus among family law practitioners is that refusals to abide by custody orders are wrongful, unless there is a legitimate concern for your child’s health. If you can’t resolve these issues on your own please contact Forrester Law, LLC so we can assist you in this matter.
Q: How does the Alabama Stay at Home Order affect custody orders?
A: The Stay at Home Order should not affect custody order; thus, you should continue to follow your current custody order unless you and your ex are both in agreement to deviate from the current custody order.
Q: Under what circumstances can I deviate from my custody order during this time?
A: For the most part, it is good practice to always follow your custody order. First, you should always communicate with your ex to see if a quick temporary agreement can be reached. If not and you believe your child is at risk of suffering serious or irreparable harm, there may be a basis for an emergency hearing depending on the facts and circumstances. However, the standard for emergency orders is very high and you should be prepared to convince the judge that there would be a serious threat to your child’s wellbeing. If you think you have a good reason to deviate from your custody order, please call Forrester Law, LLC to obtain an objective consultation on this issue.
Q: I lost my job due to COVID-19, do I still have to pay my child support?
A: Yes. However, you can seek relief from the court by way of a petition or motion to modify your child support obligation. In Alabama, you can request a retroactive modification of child support back to the date of filing; thus, it is in your best interest to file something immediately.
Q: My visitation is to take place in a public place but everything is closed, can I still visit my child?
A: Yes. You should first start by contacting the custodian of the child to try and work the specifics out. If that does not provide a resolution, you need to contact an attorney to start the process for you. This can include further negotiations or filing a pleading with the court.
Q: What do I do about transporting my child during the Covid-19 Stay at Home Order?
A: You can transport your child during this pandemic pursuant to your custody Order. The current stay at home order for Alabama ( https://governor.alabama.gov/assets/2020/04/Final-Statewide-Order-4.3.2020.pdf) provides an exception. You will find in (h) To travel as required by law. A person may leave his or her place of residence to travel as required by law enforcement or court order, including the transportation of children required by a custody agreement. I strongly encourage you to carry a copy of your custody order as well as the current stay at home order with you during your travels.
Q: Do I still have to let my child go visit if someone in my home, or in the noncustodial parent’s home, has tested positive for Covid-19?
A: It depends on the circumstances. Forrester Law recommends that you follow your custody order. However, your child’s safety and best interest should be at the forefront of both parent’s concerns and you should attempt to work the situation out between you. If you cannot come to an agreement, it is best to contact a lawyer to further advise.
Q: I cannot afford my rent right now is my family at risk of eviction?
A: There is no current clear answer on this topic. It appears that individuals in government housing are protected for now. However, renters within the private sector have more to be concerned about. You should contact your landlord immediately and attempt to negotiate in good faith how to proceed. If you cannot resolve your issue, please contact an attorney to further assist you in the matter.
You should always contact a lawyer to discuss your specific case and the information in this Q&A is meant as a general guide and not directly advise on the subject. Forrester Law takes the general position that all court orders should be followed. Further, Forrester Law makes no representation that the quality of its services are better than that of another lawyer.