While the nation is worried about coronavirus (COVID-19) it is understandable if you are also worried about your pending divorce, custody, child support, adoption or guardianship case. We understand that you are concerned about how this health crisis will affect your family. Our attorneys are responding to phone calls and emails from clients and accepting new cases to provide as many answers as possible. Further, information on court proceedings is being updated daily and we are closely monitoring the Courts to provide up to date information for our clients and potential clients.
Court Closures and Continued Trials
In Clark County, the Eighth Judicial District Court issued an order that effective March 16, 2020, all non-essential District Court hearings are to be conducted by video, phone, decided on the papers or rescheduled. At this time, each Family Court Judge has the discretion to suspend trials and hearings or use phone or videoconferencing to handle hearings. Our office is keeping track of each Family Court department and can give you up to date information on how your case will be handled by your judge.
In these uncertain times, it is especially important to consider settlement options. If we are able to negotiate a full settlement for your divorce or custody case, we can submit the Order without further delay. If your case cannot be resolved, we can advise you on whether we believe a fair trial can be accomplished through videoconferencing. However, some judges may continue all trials on a temporary basis while we access how coronavirus will affect Las Vegas and Henderson.
Options to Resolve your Case while the Courts are Closed
During these uncertain times, some people will decide that they no longer want to fight their ex in court or that they are willing to make compromises to reach a settlement. If you are interested in resolving your case outside of Court, there are several options. Some cases can be resolved through attorneys negotiating directly. However, another option is private mediation. While private mediation is often conducted in person, it can easily be conducted via phone or videoconference. During private mediation, an experienced attorney will speak with both sides to assist them in making compromises to reach settlement. Further, during mediation, your attorney will advise you and assist you in reaching a settlement that works best for your circumstances. Unlike a Judge, a mediator does not make decisions based upon the evidence of your case or force you into a settlement. A mediator listens to the evidence and concerns of both sides and can provide information on what would likely happen in Court. Even though your attorney has likely already explained to you what could happen in Court, there are many variables to each case. Hearing an opinion, from a neutral third party mediator is often the final push both sides need to reach a settlement. If you already have an attorney, our office has a team of attorneys who can provide private mediation. If you are an existing client and want to have our office set up a private mediation, please contact your attorney.
Travel Restrictions Can Affect Visitation
The coronavirus (COVID-19) may cause travel restrictions that will affect non-custodial parents who live in another state, or even custody timeshares within the state of Nevada. For example, if your children are scheduled to visit the other parent in another state for Spring Break, travel to that state or from your state may be restricted. At this time, many parents do not feel comfortable putting their children on a plane, even if the flight remains an option. For travel by car to a parent’s home in another state, the parents should discuss their options and try to reach an agreement. If you and other parent have poor communication, an attorney can help you negotiate Spring Break and summer custodial arrangements. In the event that you or the other party decide to withhold for safety, the other parent can seek make up time when this situation is under control. Further, if you are separated from your child, for any length of time, do not underestimate the value of frequent phone calls and video calls. If the other parent denies you custodial time you should seek the advice of an attorney to determine your rights. Further, if you are the parent considering withholding time from the other parent, with good cause, you should consult an attorney.
If you reach an agreement with the other parent modifying your summer custody plan, make sure you get it in writing. After you come to an agreement, you should have an attorney prepare a Stipulation and Order, to be signed by the Judge, so that your agreement is enforceable.
Check your Parenting Plan, Decree of Divorce, or Custody Order
At this time, it is unknown when the Courts will resume normal operations. It is never too early to look ahead and make sure you are complying with your custody order. For example, you may want to reserve late summer or early fall vacation with your children in case life has returned to normal.
Check your Parenting Plan/Custody Order to see how much notice you need to provide for travel with the children. Further, in the event that travel is deemed safe by summer, you may want to negotiate additional time during the summer if the children are still out of school.
If you have questions about your Parenting Plan, now is the time to consult with an attorney. Further, if you have tried and failed to negotiate changes to the custody plan, which are in the children’s best interest, you may want to file a motion. At this time, the Court is still accepting motion filings and some Judges are making permissible decisions on the pleadings alone. While custody cannot be modified absent a stipulation or evidentiary hearing, you may wish to preserve your rights so that your case is heard as soon as the Courts are fully operational.
Even though this is a stressful time with many unknowns, our attorneys have made a commitment to continue representing our clients and to take on new clients. Please contact our office at 702-629-7553 to set up a consultation for any family law issues.