How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Affected Issues of Family Law 

The pandemic has brought about a significant amount of confusion to everyone in the world. Mankind hasn’t experienced a pandemic since the 1918 flu outbreak, so it can be hard to understand where our daily lives stand, especially with blended families in the picture. Many parents and families have been running to the law in order to get a clear picture regarding how the outbreak of COVID-19 will continue to affect custody rights, visitation, and other related circumstances. Thankfully, the Aranda Law Firm is here to help. We discuss some frequently asked questions in regards to family law. 

Have the courts been operating differently due to the pandemic?

The courts have been obligated to operate with precaution towards the coronavirus, much like many other businesses across the nation. The Texas Supreme Court consistently issues orders that go into detail regarding how they will be operating. Check with your city court to learn more. 

Does the COVID-19 pandemic change the stance on my child custody order?

Whether you are the parent who has custody over their child or has visitation rights, the COVID-19 pandemic does not change the status of your child custody order. Although the Texas Supreme Court issued several emergency orders in efforts to comply with safety protocol, they also noted that a person has a right to exercise their child visitation rights. If you believe your child custody and visitation case is no longer safe, you can file a motion in order to modify your child custody case. 

What could happen if the other parent files a motion to enforce visitation? 

If the other parent files a motion to enforce visitation, you should file an answer, regardless. The other parent may request the following to the judge:

  • To be reimbursed for time and money that was used in an attempt for visiting the child
  • To ask for additional time with their child

If you are the parent that is enforcing a motion to enforce visitation, you should get in touch with a lawyer right to determine how your case will be conducted with COVID-19 court protocol. 

Can I finish an agreed law case even with courts being placed on hold? 

This is possible. Some judges are open to taking Prove-Up affidavits in order to provide a hearing whenever possible. Some courts are also providing families with the option to conduct a virtual prove-up hearing in order to speed up the process. If a video conference isn’t available, a phone call may be an option. Some Texas courts are willing to finalize a case without a hearing, but you should check first to make sure. 

What is considered an “essential” hearing?

There is no concrete list of hearings or cases that are classified as “essential”, but some essential hearings that have taken place during COVID-19 consisted of CPS (Child Protective Services) removal hearings, temporary restraining orders, and domestic violence protective orders. If your case needs a ruling from a judge right away, get in contact with a lawyer. 

How can my family and I stay safe during a shelter in place order while there is an abuser living in my home?

If you and your family are experiencing these kinds of emergency situations, call 911. You can also visit the following websites to learn more about how to stay safe during the process of escaping domestic violence:

Are shelters still open during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

There are still many shelters open and they are providing both residential and non-residential services. Although these services may be a bot modified due to the pandemic, they are still available. It may differ among shelters. It is best that you call the shelters you are looking at (if you are) to determine which services are available and how you will be able to access them. 

Can I finish my case by default? 

Along with the Texas Supreme Court emergency orders, it allows courts to modify or suspend all deadlines for an established period ending no later than 30 days after the governor’s state of disaster has been lifted. In simpler terms, judges are open to extending the amount of time a person has to respond and file an answer for a family law case. With that being said, you might be able to finish your case by default. 

You Have Questions, We Have Answers. Contact us! 

The Aranda Law Firm wants to help you, through thick and thin. Contact us today to learn more about how we are assisting our clients through the COVID-19 pandemic.