As more people fall ill with the coronavirus across the U.S., many states and cities have had to take more serious measures to stop the spread of the disease. While the disease affects the elderly and those with compromised immune systems the worst, anyone who contracts the virus is at risk of falling seriously ill or serving as a vector for the disease. As of this writing, the Centers for Disease Control reports over 1,600 cases of the illness and over 40 deaths, but because the spread of the disease moves quickly, these numbers are likely to change in the coming days and weeks. The biggest concern that medical officials and local officials are trying to manage is a situation where our medical system becomes overwhelmed with seriously ill people. In Italy, where officials failed to stop the spread of the disease early enough, there weren’t enough respirators available for the most chronically ill, and intensive care units are so overwhelmed that doctors have had to make agonizing decisions about who lives and who dies, according to the Atlantic. In an attempt to avoid this in the U.S., many states and cities have started taking dramatic measures to prevent large gatherings of people and to increase social distance between people. This is so the weakest and most vulnerable among us might be protected from the worst of this illness.
If you are in the process of filing for divorce in Jackson, Mississippi, are thinking of filing for divorce, or if you have a child custody agreement in place and are wondering how this emergency might impact these things, you are not alone. Ballard Law, PLLC is a Jackson, Mississippi divorce law firm that is closely watching as this situation unfolds. If you have questions about your divorce case, filing date, child custody agreement, or another matter, please reach out to Ballard Law, PLLC today. Our divorce lawyers are here for you.
As we begin to understand the full gravity of the situation (a national emergency was just declared), we expect that some major aspects of American life might get disrupted (including potential disruptions in the family court system). What are some things you should watch for in the coming days and weeks as we weather this pandemic? Here are some ways that coronavirus (COVID-19) might impact your divorce:
- Watch for Court Updates. If you have a court date coming soon, watch closely for alerts and updates from the family court. As of yet, we don’t see any updates about court closures, but as this situation evolves, non-essential court proceedings may be cancelled or postponed. Stay in touch with your divorce lawyer about your case, and if you feel ill you may be asked to let the courts know so that your case can be rescheduled.
- Keep in Mind that Meetings May Be Postponed. Planning to meet with your former spouse for mediation? Planning to meet with your lawyer? As this situation evolves, meetings may need to be postponed or held virtually. If someone falls ill, he or she may need to quarantine. In the era of coronavirus, we’ll all need to be patient and be prepared that things might take longer as we navigate unprecedented changes in the ways we move around and conduct business.
- Vulnerable Assets and Division of Property. The stock market has suffered some shocks as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. This has led to a decrease in value of some retirement funds and stock assets. If you are in the process of negotiating a divorce settlement or had previously negotiated a settlement (but not finalized it) before this crisis, now might be the time to take another close look at how you are dividing assets and the value of the assets you are dividing. Because the stock market is in flux right now, it might be more challenging to value these assets. You may need to speak to your accountant or lawyer, or may even want to sit tight to see how the coronavirus crisis will play out before you finalize your divorce agreement.
- The Family Home. If you were planning to sell the family home, the good news is that the value of homes hasn’t decreased significantly. However, as people practice social distancing measures, it might be less likely that people will be out looking for a new home. Be prepared for the sale of your home to take longer in the weeks ahead.
- Child Custody. If you are in the process of reaching a child custody agreement, now is a good time to consider how an emergency might impact your child custody plans. Do you have a plan in place for what happens if schools are suddenly canceled? Who will care for the children if there are social distancing restrictions put in place? What happens if one parent gets sick? Having these discussions now are important. If you already have a plan in place, do you have provisions for emergencies? Now might be the time to talk to your former spouse, before more cancellations occur, and before movement might be further restricted.
- Child Support. What happens if one parent is laid off or out of work during the coronavirus emergency? What happens if both parents begin to struggle financially? Having a discussion now about how your children will be adequately supported during these trying times is wise.
These are just a few things to keep in mind as the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation unfolds. If you are in the process of getting divorced, keep in mind that the road ahead may include delays or rescheduled court dates. That said, Ballard Law, PLLC is a divorce law firm in Jackson, Mississippi that is here for you every step of the way. We are here to answer your questions and help you take the next steps. Reach out to us today or reach out to USAttorneys.com to get connected.