Month: <span>March 2020</span>

Changes To Your Parenting Plan and Expenses During COVID-19

Many separated and divorced parents have questions during this uncertain time.

How do you manage shared parenting time and financial changes due to loss of job and/or schedule changes? Modifications to your current agreements can be made as long as you are both in agreement.

Agreements for child support include language for any substantial change in circumstances and COVID-19 can mean a large change for you and your family.

Mutually agreeing how you and your ex-spouse will manage the kids and finances while keeping everyone safe and healthy is of the utmost importance.

If you can agree on any changes for sharing time with the kids that need to happen (for health concerns or job schedule changes) and adjustments to support or sharing of expenses due to being laid off or having other changes in income, that is wonderful.

If you are unable to agree on how to handle the current situations we are all dealing with, loss of income and concerns for kids going between houses and exposure, (two of the most asked questions during this time), The Mediation Center can help you navigate these conversations to help you put a temporary plan in place.

Although the courts are closed, we can meet with you online or via phone. Let us know how we can help.

These are stressful times. Getting your questions answered and having clear understandings between you and your ex-spouse can make these next few weeks and months more manageable.

Call us at 585-269-8140 or email us at renee@mediationctr.com to make an appointment.

Seven Guidelines for Parents Who Are Divorce/Separated and Sharing Custody of Children During the COVID19 Pandemic

From the leaders of groups that deal with families in crisis:

Susan Myres, President of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML)
Dr. Matt Sullivan, President of Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC)
Annette Burns, AAML and Former President of AFCC
Yasmine Mehmet, AAML
Kim Bonuomo, AAML
Nancy Kellman, AAML
Dr. Leslie Drozd, AFCC
Dr. Robin Deutsch, AFCC
Jill Peña, Executive Director of AAML
Peter Salem, Executive Director of AFCC

1. BE HEALTHY.

Comply with all CDC and local and state guidelines and model good behavior for your children with intensive hand washing, wiping down surfaces and other objects that are frequently touched, and maintaining social distancing. This also means BE INFORMED. Stay in touch with the most reliable media sources and avoid the rumor mill on social media.

2. BE MINDFUL.

Be honest about the seriousness of the pandemic but maintain a calm attitude and convey to your children your belief that everything will return to normal in time. Avoid making careless comments in front of the children and exposing them to endless media coverage intended for adults. Don’t leave the news on 24/7, for instance. But, at the same time, encourage your children to ask questions and express their concerns and answer them truthfully at a level that is age-appropriate.

3. BE COMPLIANT with court orders and custody agreements.

As much as possible, try to avoid reinventing the wheel despite the unusual circumstances. The custody agreement or court order exists to prevent endless haggling over the details of timesharing. In some jurisdictions there are even standing orders mandating that, if schools are closed, custody agreements should remain in force as though school were still in session.

4. BE CREATIVE.

At the same time, it would be foolish to expect that nothing will change when people are being advised not to fly and vacation attractions such as amusement parks, museums and entertainment venues are closing all over the US and the world. In addition, some parents will have to work extra hours to help deal with the crisis and other parents may be out of work or working reduced hours for a time. Plans will inevitably have to change. Encourage closeness with the parent who is not going to see the child through shared books, movies, games and FaceTime or Skype.

5. BE TRANSPARENT.

Provide honest information to your co-parent about any suspected or confirmed exposure to the virus, and try to agree on what steps each of you will take to protect the child from exposure. Certainly both parents should be informed at once if the child is exhibiting any possible symptoms of the virus.

6. BE GENEROUS.

Try to provide makeup time to the parent who missed out, if at all possible. Family law judges expect reasonable accommodations when they can be made and will take seriously concerns raised in later filings about parents who are inflexible in highly unusual circumstances.

7. BE UNDERSTANDING.

There is no doubt that the pandemic will pose an economic hardship and lead to lost earnings for many, many parents, both those who are paying child support and those who are receiving child support. The parent who is paying should try to provide something, even if it can’t be the full amount. The parent who is receiving payments should try to be accommodating under these challenging and temporary circumstances.

Adversity can become an opportunity for parents to come together and focus on what is best for the child. For many children, the strange days of the pandemic will leave vivid memories. It’s important for every child to know and remember that both parents did everything they could to explain what was happening and to keep their child safe.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE – THE MEDIATION CENTER IS OPEN TO HELP DURING COVID-19

You are not alone during this time of uncertainty.

The Mediation Center is OPEN and conducting mediation sessions via phone and Zoom for separation, divorce, custody and visitation and family issues.

Although the courts are closed for matrimonial filings, we are not. We can help you navigate your process from start to finish (or pick up from anywhere in-between). We would like to support our clients, new and existing, so that they may structure a plan for now and in the future that is both durable and sustainable.

If you have started a process for separation and divorce, we can still help you move forward if you feel that is right for your situation and family. We have a process in place that can allow you the peace of mind of having a separation agreement signed, if needed.

We understand that taking some time to adjust to the “new normal” may be appropriate for you or you may feel more comfortable staying on track with your decision to separate or divorce from your spouse.

Stress levels may be increasing over the next few weeks with kids and parents home and with increasing questions and fears about finances.

We have wonderful supporting professionals who can help with your financial, legal and emotional needs.

Give us a call at 585-269-8140 or email us at renee@mediationctr.com

Whatever your situation or decision is, we are here to help.