COVID-19 Impacting Change of Circumstances in New York Family Courts

COVID-19 Impacting Change of Circumstances in New York Family Courts

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting actions to combat the spread of this deadly virus have triggered monumental, unforeseen consequences in practically every area of life. Here in the State of New York, Governor Cuomo’s March 20, 2020, Executive Order 202.8, popularly known as “New York State on PAUSE,” closed all non-essential businesses, forcing many residents out of work. Williamson, Clune and Stevens, child custody lawyers in Ithaca and Syracuse, know how this has affected many families.

In addition to this, another official action directly impacted those who have child support, spousal support and child custody agreements. An Administrative Order (78/20) from Chief Administrative When There are Children Involved in Your Divorce ProceedingsJudge Lawrence Marks dated March 22, 2020, stopped the filing of paperwork for any non-essential matters with the New York courts. Under the guidelines for Family Courts, essential proceedings did not include child support or spousal support petitions.

Since these events, the New York Courts, including Family Courts, have reopened for business, allowing for new filings and petitions. However, the backlog of new petitions for a change of circumstances due to conditions from COVID-19 is enormous. During the interim time period, Williamson, Clune and Stevens, as well as other attorneys, prepared new petitions for changes to numerous support agreements because of widespread unemployment brought about by efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. These new petitions are being handled as quickly as possible by the courts.

Current Guidance for Spousal and Child Support Agreements

At the date of this writing, no orders from any entity in the State of New York prohibits or supersedes court orders for child support, spousal support, or child custody and visitation. Simply put, you are still responsible for paying your child support and spousal support payments, and all child custody and visitation arrangements are to be kept. Williamson, Clune and Stevens, divorce lawyers in Ithaca, Elmira, Binghamton and Syracuse, suggest that every effort should be made to carry out your responsibilities. Your efforts to do so will likely impact the court’s decisions regarding any petitions to adjust your agreements due to COVID-19.

We also understand that unemployment circumstances may make these efforts difficult, if not impossible, at the present time. A Family Law attorney from Williamson, Clune and Stevens can file a petition to change your court-ordered agreement with the Family Courts to reflect your current employment status and financial situation. You should know that this petition will likely be delayed due to the current court backlog.

Until a determination is made by the court, we encourage parties to work together to arrange some agreement for support that is manageable for everyone involved. One of our Family Law attorneys would be pleased to work with you in crafting a favorable agreement. This effort will also likely receive favorable treatment by the courts when your case is reviewed.

Current Guidance for Child Custody and Visitation Agreements

As previously stated, there is currently no prohibition that would allow you to violate court-ordered child custody and visitation arrangements. However, families must exercise sound judgment to protect children from the spread of the coronavirus. If a child or family member is sick, they should not participate in planned visitations. In this circumstance, families should make every effort to make alternate visitation arrangements when everyone is well.

In cases when work responsibilities could place a family member at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19, and there are concerns about them spreading the virus to children or other family members, families should also labor to make workable agreements to maintain court-ordered custody and visitation arrangements. Williamson, Clune and Stevens can work with you to file a petition for changes if necessary. But again, judgment in your case will be delayed, and a workable arrangement crafted by the family itself will impress the court and likely influence their decisions.

A Community-Focused Law Firm in Ithaca, Syracuse, Elmira and Binghamton

Williamson, Clune and Stevens attorneys at Law in Ithaca, Syracuse and Elmira has been faithfully serving the upstate New York communities of Ithaca, Syracuse, Elmira and Binghamton since 1978. Our attorneys have walked with New York families through decades of upheaval and change, and the COVID-19 pandemic is only the latest. We are ready and able to serve your needs for Family Law services in Ithaca and Syracuse, including crafting and filing petitions for changes in your support, custody and visitation agreements.

We realize how COVID-19 has impacted the families of our community, and we will do everything possible to support you through this time of unprecedented hardship and uncertainty. Contact our office in Ithaca, NY at 888-863-3341 or 607-273-3339 to inquire about legal assistance with Family Law matters.