Family Law in the time of COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
On March 12, 2020, Governor Sisolak issued a Declaration of Emergency in response to COVID-19. 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. Each Family Court Judge has the discretion to use phone and video conferencing to handle hearings or to continue hearings.
On April 21, 2020, Governor Sisolak announced that Nevada schools would remain closed for the rest of the 2019/2020 school year and that he has a three-stage plan to re-open Nevada. Given that Nevada is not in stage one of re-opening yet, our office continues to closely monitor all updates so we can provide you with the most recent news of any events that could affect your family law case.
Custody and COVID-19
If both parents are living in Las Vegas/Henderson area and are following coronavirus safety recommendations, custody exchanges should continue. Further, if you believe the other parent is not following safety guidelines, you should seek legal advice before withholding custody. Withholding custody without filing a motion with the court, could affect your custody rights in the future. Further, if the other parent is denying you custody rights during this time, you should seek legal advice immediately.
Non-custodial parents who live out of state may be forced to miss their summer custodial time due to coronavirus travel restrictions. When you miss custodial time with your child due to travel restrictions, you are entitled to make up time. If you and the other parent reach an agreement to modify summer custodial time, make sure you get the agreement in writing. Further, for any agreement to be enforceable, it must be signed by the judge and filed with the Court. Our attorneys can help you negotiate make up time and ensure the proper documents are filed with the court.
Pending Cases in Family Court
During this time, you may have concerns about how COVID-19 will affect your pending custody, divorce, child support, adoption or guardianship case. We are keeping track of each Family Court Department and can give you the most recent updates on how your judge is handing cases during this uncertain time. At this time, it is unknown when the Courts will resume in person trials. Some judges have indicated that it may be possible to conduct trials through videoconferencing and we can advise you on whether we believe you could receive a fair trial in this manner. While we access how COVID-19 will affect Las Vegas, some judges may continue all trials. We do not know when many of the continued trials will be reset because it is unknown when the Courts will open fully.
Although the physical Family Court is closed, we can still file new divorce, custody, adoption and other family law cases. If we are able to negotiate a full settlement, judges are still reviewing and signing Divorce Decrees, Custody Decrees as well as other stipulated settlements.
We can also file motions to resolve custody, child support or other issues. Some of the Family Court judges are issuing decisions based solely on the paperwork filed, while others are allowing telephonic/video hearings to make a ruling. Either way, our office is experienced in drafting detailed motions/oppositions and arguing motions/oppositions before the Court.
Loss of Job and Child Support
You may have lost your job due to coronavirus and if you have a child support obligation you need legal advice. Child support cannot be modified retroactively. This means that if you do not take action now to reduce your child support, you will be held liable for the full child support amount, even while you are unemployed. Job loss or significant income reduction are reasons to reduce child support and we can calculate the new child support amounts for you.
Due to job loss or the uncertainty of when you will get your day in court, some people will decide they want to settle. If you are interested in resolving your case outside of court, we can provide options. By providing a thorough analysis of your case and making a fair settlement offer, some cases can be resolved directly with the opposing attorney or person representing themselves. We also recommend private mediation for some cases. Private mediation is usually conducted in person, it can also take place via videoconference. In private mediation, an experienced mediator (who is usually a licensed attorney), will listen to the evidence from both sides and offer their analysis of what could happen in Court. Even though your counsel has explained each side of the case to you, hearing from a neutral party can push both sides towards a fair settlement. If you are a current client who is interested in settlement, please contact your attorney.
Our office is committed to continue to represent our clients and we are accepting new clients during this difficult time. If you would like to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, please call 702-522-1808.