COVID-19 Update: How we are serving and protecting our clients.

Articles Posted in Coronavirus

Selfie-Mother-300x200At the time of writing this blog, the New York Courts are still only willing to accept new cases that it deems essential to help reduce interactions in the times of the COVID-19 coronavirus. This means that many issues have been put on hold for the time being.

In cases of child custody or divorce, it’s common to feel as though all of your issues are essential. However, the court may not be willing to hear them unless they can see a reason for the case being an “emergency”. One thing that is generally not dealt with, at this time during the coronavirus pandemic, as an emergency is child custody and parenting cases. However, there’s always a chance that a court could choose to accept any particular case as an emergency or essential when considering an application.

Recently, I’ve received a number of calls from parents looking to limit parenting time or that are concerned that they are not getting their parenting time because of COVID-19. The starting point in this situation is to remember that if an order already exists for custody and parenting time for a parent, then the starting point for any analysis is that order. There should be a presumption that this order is the proper custody and parenting time that should happen. However, if there are health concerns posed by the pandemic, for example, there might be exceptions.

Addressing Parenting Time In Difficult Circumstances

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OrderofProtectioncouple-300x200At the time of writing, my office is still open during the COVID-19 pandemic however I am doing business a little differently, as everyone. We have made some changes to the way that we support citizens in New York and Long Island, to adhere with the guidelines implemented for the safety of US residents. This means that phone and video consultations are more likely during this time.

It’s also worth noting that the courts have reduced the number of cases that they are willing to hear, to avoid the unnecessary gathering of people in a legal environment. The courts are only open for essential cases at this time. Although the definition of “essential” may change in the months to come and may differ on a case by case basis, we do know that Orders of Protection are listed as essential. Usually, these cases are managed in Family Court, within Nassau, Suffolk, Queens County and other areas. Most of these courts have adopted virtual court appearances at this time for safety reasons and to comply with the orders, guidelines, and directives that apply during the coronavirus

Applying for an Order of Protection at This Time

People considered to be family have the option to access orders of protection against other family members when certain offenses are committed. My office has helped various families to apply for or defend against these orders over the years and will continue to do so at this time. Continue reading ›

Coronavirusmasks-300x200For everyone’s information we are still doing business and trying our best to help people during this crisis. In difficult times such as the COVID-19 pandemic, we all still have issues that we need to face in our personal lives, such as dealing with child support and maintenance awards. The default law around child support modification indicates that either party in a case can file for a modification of child support based on:

  1. A substantial change of circumstances
  2. That income has changed by 15% or more
  3. That three or more years has elapsed since the last support order

These default requirements apply unless the parties agreed that they would opt out of options 2 and 3 in a written agreement. If the parties have changed from the default with a written agreement, the language of that document would highlight in which circumstances a modification can be sought.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, it was clear that you could file a request at any time if you had one of the circumstances that would normally apply to the parties to get a child support modification. If a modification was granted, the law is that it would be retroactive to the filing date in court of the petition of application for child support to be modified. This basically means that if you filed for child support to be changed on December 1 and then the court case was decided on February 1 in your favor, the amount due would be recalculated backwards from December 1 (the filing date) forward. Continue reading ›

Phone-call-300x216Currently, as I’m writing this blog, the Darren Shapiro Law and Mediation Office is still doing business, albeit since the governor ordered 100% of the workforce must work from home, I am working from home by phone, email, skype, zoom, and whatever works. Even before the order, we were taking as many steps as we can to protect our clients, and the people who come to us for help. This means not only ensuring that we follow all precautions for health and safety, but also supporting everyone adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Since it seems, for now, people need to avoid meeting your divorce attorney or mediator in person, but you still have options. For new clients, we have always, and will continue to provide initial consultations, with up to the first half hour free, that are available either over the phone, skype, zoom, or other digital means. If you want to discuss your case, you can connect with me over the phone, via email, or schedule an appointment for a video conference, we will make different arrangements work.

Dealing with Mediation and Litigation

Currently, divorce mediation can still be done via phone or video. We can initiate Skype videoconferencing, Zoom, audioconferencing, or possibly other sessions for people since we will not be able to attend a mediation session in person. This option has been used in the past by our office for those who were unable to attend meetings due to distance, work or travel commitments. Payments can also be collected via email, text, or over the phone. We can use encryption in emails to protect your personal data. Continue reading ›

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