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COVID-19 & Family Law Matters in New Jersey

Our Family Law Firm is Operating at Full Capacity During the COVID-19 Crisis. 

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected all of our lives in unprecedented ways. In many respects, 2020 will be remembered as the year of what could have been. For many families, the COVID-19 crisis has caused severe financial strain, and it has taken an emotional toll that most parents and spouses could not have imagined just months ago.

If you have questions about family law issues related to the COVID-19 crisis, it is important that you seek help. Our firm is continuing to represent parents, spouses and other family members during the crisis, and our attorneys are available to speak with you on the phone or via videoconference. All communications are strictly confidential; and, if you need legal representation, we can assist you remotely without the need to travel to one of our office locations.

What Can I Do if I Am a Victim or Have Been Accused of Domestic Violence?

Unfortunately, recent data suggest that there has been a significant increase in the prevalence of domestic violence during the COVID-19 crisis. With family members having limited options for spending time outside of the home, the crisis has resulted in many more spouses and partners becoming victims of physical, verbal and emotional abuse.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse, you need to protect yourself. You can call 911 or New Jersey’s Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-572-SAFE (7233) if you need immediate protection, and you can contact us at 877-435-6371 if you would like to speak with an attorney about seeking a restraining order or taking other legal action. We also represent individuals who have been accused of domestic violence, including those who are facing false accusations.

Can Spouses File for Divorce in New Jersey During the COVID-19 Crisis?

Yes. The New Jersey courts never stopped accepting divorce filings, and continue to do so today. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, New Jersey’s court system largely shut down in-person court appearances due to the risks of in-person exposure. However, the courts are handling matters by phone and videoconference, and this is slowly getting dockets back on track. We have successfully appeared virtually on numerous motions during this time, and virtual trials are beginning to occur.The courts will reopen to in-person appearances shortly, but on a limited basis.

This means that you can file for divorce in New Jersey during the COVID-19 crisis. Additionally, there are several steps you can take both before and after filing for divorce that do not require court involvement; so, if you have been considering a divorce and are prepared to move forward, there is no reason to delay.

New Jersey is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning that you do not need to state a specific reason you are filing for divorce. New Jersey law allows spouses to file for divorce based on “irreconcilable differences” as long as they meet a couple of basic requirements:

  • At least one spouse has lived in New Jersey for 12 or more consecutive months; and,
  • The irreconcilable differences must have persisted for at least six months.

If you are ready to file for divorce, our attorneys can guide you every step of the way. We can help you gather the necessary information, decide what is best for you and your children, and pursue a favorable outcome on your behalf. Our family law attorneys have decades of experience representing divorcing spouses in New Jersey, and we can use this experience to help you get a new lease on life.

After a Divorce or Separation, Which Spouse is Entitled to COVID-19 Stimulus Funds?

One particular issue that we have seen come up during the COVID-19 crisis involves the allocation of stimulus funds between divorced and separated spouses. For couples that divorced in 2018 or prior, each spouse should have received his or her own stimulus check based upon their most-recent federal income tax filings. However, for spouses who got divorced in 2019 or 2020 and who have not yet filed their federal income taxes separately, there is a possibility that they could run into an issue with how their stimulus funds are disbursed.

Regardless of the timing of their divorce, divorced parents may also run into issues regarding the allegation of their child credit stimulus payments (in addition to providing payments of up to $1,200 per adult, the stimulus package also included payments of up to $500 for minor dependents). If you have questions about whether you or your former spouse is entitled to these funds, our attorneys can help, and we encourage you to contact us for more information.

What if I Can’t Afford to Pay Alimony or Child Support Due to COVID-19?

If you are obligated to make monthly alimony or child support payments as a result of your divorce and you can no longer afford your payments due to the financial impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, it is extremely important that you speak with an attorney. Even if your current financial circumstances do not allow you to pay, non-payment of alimony or child support is a court order violation that can have significant ramifications.

Under New Jersey law, it is possible to seek a modification of alimony or child support in certain limited circumstances. These circumstances include a material change in the payor’s income. If you need to seek relief from your divorce-related financial obligations, our attorneys can determine if you are eligible to request a modification; and, if you are, we can promptly file the necessary paperwork on your behalf.  

Speak with a New Jersey Family Law Attorney in Confidence

Do you have questions about addressing or resolving a family-related legal issue during the COVID-19 crisis? If so, we encourage you to arrange a confidential consultation with one of our New Jersey family law attorneys. To schedule a phone call or videoconference at a time that is convenient for you, please call 877-435-6371 or request an appointment online today. 

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Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A.

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