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How Will the Coronavirus Affect Family Legal Matters?

Everyone is dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Countless businesses have had to close their doors, and millions of Americans have suddenly found themselves out of a job. Most of the country is under lockdown until the virus passes, the children are doing distance learning, and a lot of people have moved their offices to their homes.

The coronavirus pandemic is sure to affect every area of our society, and particularly families. Families will be impacted in numerous ways, and this includes legal proceedings that have been filed in the family courts, or that were about to be filed, as well as ongoing settlement agreements from prior proceedings.

Divorce

With the South Carolina courts closed for everything except emergency hearings, the most immediate effect will be a delay in the divorce proceeding. Depending on how long things are shut down, a newly filed divorce could be delayed for several months. While waiting, divorcing spouses can use this time to get better prepared. Make sure you have all of the documents that will be needed for the discovery process and discuss any other issues with your attorney that have not already been covered.

The delay might also present an opportunity to settle some of the major sticking points like parenting plans and property division without the involvement of the courts. This could be accomplished through an alternative process such as arbitration, mediation, or negotiation, all of which can be done remotely through phone or videoconferencing.

As for the future, many experts expect a rise in divorces resulting from the coronavirus shutdown. Couples being isolated for an extended period of time when they are not used to spending that much time together as well as the stress of tighter finances could trigger a lot of couples that may have already been having marital problems to call it quits.

On the other hand, Psychology Today cautions that this event is unprecedented, and we don’t really know what the world will look like when it is all over. Divorces could spike, but then again, we could be looking at another baby boom. Only time will tell.

Child Custody/Visitation

For many parents who are already separated or divorced, COVID-19 has been very disruptive to their parenting plans. The kids are home all day, and some parents are home more after having lost their jobs or started working remotely. For other parents, the coronavirus means working long hours and lots of overtime. This is particularly true if they are front-line workers such as hospital staff, truck drivers, and grocery store workers.

On top of the scheduling issues, there are some families in which the parents do not see the situation the same way. For example, one parent might want to keep the kids at home in keeping with social distancing guidelines, while the other prefers to take them out more because they do not think COVID-19 is all that dangerous.

Parents that suddenly find themselves with custody and visitation schedules that no longer make sense should try to work out a temporary schedule adjustment on their own. If necessary, they may want to get their lawyers involved to negotiate the new schedule on their behalf or at the very least, draw up a temporary agreement to get them through this situation.

Unfortunately, there will be some families in which reaching an agreement on their own is not possible. In such cases, they can petition the court for an emergency proceeding in order to protect the safety and well-being of their children.

Spousal Support/Child Support

We know that the shutdown which has been triggered by the COVID-19 crisis will be devastating financially to a lot of families. As a result, many parents who are paying child support and/or spousal support may see a significant drop in income or even lose their job altogether. In South Carolina, support payments can be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances, and a major change in income (either negative or positive) could certainly be a basis to petition the court for a modification.

This, by the way, could apply to either the paying or receiving spouse. So if, for example, the receiving spouse lost his/her part-time job because of the coronavirus pandemic and the paying spouse’s income did not change, then the receiving spouse may be able to petition for a higher support payment.

Whatever the situation, it is not easy to succeed with a petition for modification. If you are considering going this route, be sure to work with a skilled and knowledgeable family law attorney to help ensure that your petition is prepared properly.

The Nowell Law Firm is Here to Help

As we work our way through the COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath, we are all in this together. At the Nowell Law Firm, we are still open and available to help South Carolinians with family legal matters and other legal issues you may have. We are taking all the precautions and practicing social distancing, and we are doing most of our work remotely these days. Still, we are well equipped to help you with your legal issue.

For a consultation with a member of our legal team, message us online or call our office today at (864) 469-2481. We look forward to serving you!

How will the COVID 19 Pandemic Impact Accident Injury Claims?

The coronavirus outbreak that has ravished our country and the world will impact every area of our society in one way or another. Although some people may be immune to the virus, no one is immune to the effects of it. And this includes those who have been injured in a car accident or suffered some other type of personal injury.

The South Carolina courts have temporarily suspended all jury trials until the COVID-19 situation subsides, and emergency hearings and other proceedings are being done at the discretion of each local court. Many of these can be done by telephone or videoconferencing, and with anything that happens in a live courtroom, only the participants, their attorneys, and the judge are allowed to be present.

At the Nowell Law Firm, we want you to know that, although the court processes have been delayed, we are still here, and we are well-equipped to successfully represent our clients just as we have been prior to this unprecedented outbreak. We are taking all of the precautions and following all of the social distancing guidelines, and we are performing many of our tasks remotely these days. But rest assured, we have the technology and resources to continue pursuing justice on behalf of each client we serve.

How the Coronavirus Outbreak may Affect Personal Injury Cases

With most of the country under a “stay-at-home” order, there are far fewer cars on the road, which we presume will result in a drop in car crashes while all of this is ongoing. At the same time, however, there are more people out walking and riding their bikes since the gyms are closed and these are among the physical activities that are still allowed. This could heighten the risk of bicycle and pedestrian accidents, which can often result in more serious injuries.

There are still as many (or perhaps more) large commercial trucks on the roadways carrying groceries and other essential supplies to the stores. In addition, many of these drivers are overworked and under a lot of stress, which could heighten the risk of trucking accidents.

COVID-19 might also present some challenges to personal injury victims that they might not otherwise have to deal with, particularly with regards to obtaining medical treatment and securing fair compensation for their injuries.

Medical Treatment

When someone is injured in an accident, they should get immediate medical attention for their injuries. In a traumatic event like a car accident, an ambulance is usually called to the scene to tend to those who are hurt. And if the injuries are serious, they may need to be taken to the hospital. The initial medical help you receive should not be disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak, at least not in South Carolina, but there could be issues with follow-up visits, tests, and treatments.

For one thing, accident victims may be apprehensive about going into doctor appointments with the risk of coming in contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive. It is important to understand, however, that hospitals and medical clinics are doing everything possible to keep their facilities sanitized and keep patients properly distanced from each other. There may still be a slight risk of contracting the virus, as there is if you go anywhere in public, but the risk to your health is much greater if you do not follow the treatment plan prescribed by your doctor.

Another issue could be the need to redirect medical resources to treat coronavirus patients, which may cause your treatment plan to be delayed. You are supposed to do everything possible to mitigate the effects of your injury, but we are living in extraordinary times, and these would definitely be considered extenuating circumstances. If something is delayed, there is not much you can do about it. However, do your best to keep the appointments you have and follow doctor’s orders as much as possible.

Settling Personal Injury Claims

With COVID-19 going on and the wheels of justice turning slower, accident injury victims may feel more pressure to settle their claims. Many will no doubt be financially impacted by the shutdown, and insurance companies may also try to take advantage of the situation by making a lowball settlement offer for far less than what the claim is really worth. In times like these, it is more important than ever to have a skilled attorney in your corner who has the proven ability to secure maximum compensation on behalf of their clients.

The Nowell Law Firm is Here for You

If you or someone close to you suffered injury because of the actions of another party, do not put your claim on hold because of the coronavirus situation. Waiting will only make it more difficult to recover the full and fair compensation you deserve. At the Nowell Law Firm, we are here for you, and we are ready to serve your legal needs. For a consultation with one of our attorneys, message us online or call our Spartanburg, SC office today at (864) 469-2481.