Divorce and Family Law News: Cover Your Cough and Your Family: COVID-19

03.16.2020

This special edition of DSM Divorce Lawyer focuses on important issues for families dealing with divorce, child custody, illness of a child, spousal support, and child support during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (“COVID-19”). Governor Kim Reynolds recommended all schools close for four weeks. The Iowa Legislature suspended the current legislative session for thirty days. Iowa Chief Justice Susan Christensen issued an order that postponed criminal jury trials until April 20 and civil jury trials until May 4. Below you will find non-legal guidance to questions you will likely face during the pandemic.

Will the Iowa Court System Shut Down due to covid-19?

Not likely. Trials and hearings will possibly be moved to later dates once COVID-19 is under control. Divorce and child custody actions will remain active and the courts will not dismiss cases. In some circumstances, the courts will hear cases through remote connections such as video and telephone.

Can I Just Have The Kids during the covid-19 state of emergency?

It depends. Existing orders and decrees do not change during times of emergency. You should pay particular attention to the wording of orders and decrees. Most contain language that states exactly when a parent has the children and when the parent does not have the children. The language should also specify what happens when school is closed. These orders and decrees should serve as your baseline guide for all questions. If you do not understand the language or think the wording is vague, you should contact an attorney.

I Do Not Want My Kids to Travel During The Pandemic  

Again, existing orders and decrees should contain specific provisions regarding travel. Most do not contain provisions regarding disease outbreaks or times of emergency. If your spouse seeks to take the children to a COVID-19 hotspot or out of the country, judicial intervention could prove necessary. Due to the spread of COVID-19, you should contact an attorney sooner rather than later to determine if an emergency application to restrict the children’s movement by the other parent is necessary.

can I take my kids to any hospital I want if they get sick from coronavirus?

This depends on if you have primary physical care or joint physical care and if you have joint legal custody or sole legal custody. Only a review of an existing order or decree can answer this question. Better yet, you should have these conversations now with the other parent. It is much easier to plan on where you will take the children in an emergency than wait until you are on the way to a hospital. The best way to handle this is to jointly decide the top two hospitals you would utilize and memorialize that decision in writing.

I Cannot Work during coronavirus and can't pay child or spousal support

Can I stop paying if my employer closed the business, reduced my hours, or I get sick? We must all must follow court orders. There could come a time when paying child support or spousal support is no longer possible at any level. If that times comes, you should contact an attorney to decide how best to proceed.

more family law coronavirus updates to come 

These are only a few of issues Iowans will face in the days to come. When in doubt, contact an attorney. A calm approach to these and other issues will serve you best in the days to come.

Refer to the Divorce and Family Law News on our website, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter and contact Tyler for further information.

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