As an Arizona State Bar Certified Specialist in family law matters in Arizona, I have been repeatedly asked how the coronavirus is impacting family law cases. Here are a few of the highlights:
CHILD SUPPORT: If you have been ordered to pay child support, remember that the order remains in place even if you lose your job, receive a pay decrease, experience cut back hours, or other changes occur. If there has been a “significant and continuing” change in circumstances, you will need to work with an attorney to adjust (reduce) your child support obligation so that you do not see arrearages accruing. Similarly, if you are receiving child support and you have lost or reduced your income as a result of COVID-19, you will need to request that the Court modify (increase) your child support payment. Remember that child support can only be ordered going forward, so if you wait for six months to make the request to the Court, the Court cannot go back the six months to the date of the change.
PARENTING TIME: The Arizona Supreme Court just issued a statement regarding the impact of COVID-19 and social distancing requirements on parenting time and parenting plans. The entire report can be reviewed at: https://www.azcourts.gov/Portals/216/Pandemic/COVID19ParentingPlans.pdf?ver=2020-04-06-124629-617
- Denial of parenting time using COVID-19 prohibited
- Even with school out, “spring break” and “summer break” follow the published calendars, even with school out for coronavirus
- Parents are encouraged to agree to a modification of parenting time if a child or someone in a household receives a positive diagnosis for coronavirus to allow for a 14 day quarantine
- Parenting exchanges are authorized under Governor Ducey’s Executive Order
- If (and only if) a government restricts travel, the parents should work together to temporarily modify the parenting time and still encourage the child(ren) to have contact with both parents
- Parents are encouraged to agree to modify exchange locations to avoid places that have increased risk of spread (crowded public places)
- Parents are encouraged to reach agreements for make-up parenting time if a parent misses parenting time due to COVID-19 related issues
- Avoid calling police and other first-responders for parenting issues, except in specific emergencies, they have their hands full
In short, use common sense when approaching parenting time during this pandemic. Those parents who opt to use the COVID-19 as a tool to hurt their children’s relationship with the other parent are specifically harming the child(ren). I highly doubt courts will look favorably upon such instances once things start to get sorted out.
If you need experienced legal representation regarding your existing parenting plan, or if you need help implementing a parenting plan, or with a divorce, legal separation, or annulment case or other family law case please call 480 733-6800 and ask to speak with one of our family law attorneys or visit our website at: