Laurie M. Wasserman
Soberlink Webinar Recap: Co-parenting and Parenting Plans in a Tough Environment
Our attorneys are working diligently to advise and counsel our clients during these unprecedented times. Many families and family law practitioners across the country are facing similar challenges – How do we enforce custody orders during this time? What constitutes a family law “emergency”? How is child support effected during the crisis? Our attorneys are committed to staying at the forefront of this crisis within the realm of family law, and to navigate the waters that seem to be changing daily (sometimes hourly).
On April 1, 2020, our attorneys attended a webinar hosted by Soberlink, Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, and Our Family Wizard, called “Co-parenting and Parenting Plans in a Tough Environment: Giving Guidance When it’s in Short Supply.” The speakers of the webinar were Judge Gerri Wong of the Ontario Court of Justice in Canada, and Annette T. Burns, a family law attorney in Arizona. Although Canada and Arizona are completely different jurisdictions than Maryland, it was apparent that attorneys across the country/continent all have the same questions and feelings regarding how to navigate family law cases and conflicts amid the pandemic.
The most important takeaways from the webinar are the following:
COVID-19 alone is not an excuse to deny parenting time.
Mere potential exposure to COVID-19 is not, in and of itself, an “emergency” warranting an emergency hearing.
Custody orders should still be followed unless the parents agree to an alternate arrangement. Neither parent has the right to unilaterally make decisions during this time.
Use mediators and parent coordinators if possible. The courts are closed, there will be a significant backlog of cases when they are back up and running, and it will be months before a case filed during this time will be heard. Mediation and parenting coordinators are offering remote services, they can have expedited sessions, and can resolve the matter much quicker than the courts are able to.
Child support must still be paid, even if you are laid off. However, if you are unable to make support payments, be honest and upfront to the other parent about your situation. Try to make an agreement with the other parent. Document the situation as best as you can.
Although these are difficult and unprecedented times, it was helpful to know that everyone in the country is facing the same questions and challenges regarding custody, visitation and child support.
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If you have questions during this unprecedented time, please email Laurie Wasserman at email@example.com or call our main number 410-842-1070. For the foreseeable future, we will work remotely and be available by telephone and virtually to serve our clients. We will be in touch with any clients impacted by the Court's closing as soon as we have more information. If you are a client who is having issues with custody/access during the quarantine, please do not hesitate to reach out.
If you are in a domestic abuse situation and need help, please call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522. Domestic abuse is a serious matter and can be heightened during times like now, where we are encouraging social distancing and quarantine. Our attorneys will continue to handle domestic violence cases throughout this time. Courts are still open to handle these important proceedings.