By: Gary L. Borger, Esquire
For the people of New Jersey and around the world, the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak has turned the world upside down. We’ve never seen anything like this in our lives. The uncertainty created by global shutdowns, unemployment, and even having to stand in line for toilet paper would be a heavyweight to bear for anyone. For those living in a struggling marriage, the stress exacerbated by “shelter-in-place” orders can be the tipping point.
If you are considering divorce or facing family law matters including alimony, child support, custody, or grandparent’s rights, you may have many questions. You you might be wondering what you should do now? Are the family law courts open? Where can you turn for help?
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about divorce in New Jersey during COVID-19.
Are the New Jersey courts open?
The New Jersey Courts continue to provide the same services as always to the people of New Jersey, but in a virtual setting. There are currently no in-person services or in-person court hearings and trials. Judges and other court staff are working from home and conducting remote hearings and conferences remotely via telephone or videoconference. Court offices in most municipal courts are currently closed for in-person business. Filings can be submitted electronically, by mail, or dropped off at a designated dropbox.
What should I do if I need the help of a divorce lawyer?
BorgerMatez, P.A. remains open and available to serve the people of New Jersey. We are working remotely for the safety of our clients and our staff. We are available for consultation by telephone or video. We have video conferencing that is secure and easy to use. In the interest of discretion and confidentiality, you may want to consider conducting the videoconference from a friend or relative’s house. To schedule a consultation with one of our divorce lawyers please call 856-424-3444.
Will COVID-19 affect how long my divorce will take?
A divorce in New Jersey typically doesn’t take more than a year. The majority of divorce cases are resolved much more quickly. Unfortunately, the coronavirus outbreak has slowed the process and caused a backlog in some counties. We can give you a better idea of how long your divorce might take during the initial consultation.
What if I have financial or child custody issues?
The coronavirus outbreak is affecting custody arrangements as some parents are refusing to let children spend time with the other parent. If you are being refused court ordered parenting time, contact our office to schedule a consultation to discuss ways we can help. We can file motion requesting the court address violations of court orders including child custody and visitation. These types of issues are being decided on a case-by-case basis taking into account individual circumstances and local stay-at-home orders.
What if I am unable to pay alimony or child support during the coronavirus pandemic?
With unemployment reaching historic levels, the COVID-19 outbreak is wreaking havoc on the economy. New Jersey has reported more than 718,000 people have lost their jobs since March when the stay-at-home guidelines were introduced. It isn’t surprising that many people are struggling to meet their financial obligations.
In New Jersey, modification of child support and/or alimony requires that the parent bring in the motion be able to prove that they have experienced a significant change in circumstances that is not temporary (NJSA 2A:34-23, NJSA 5:6A).
If you are unable to meet your obligations for child support or alimony, please contact our office to schedule a consultation. In the meantime, it is important to communicate with your ex-spouse with regard to your situation and your ability to pay. You should also continue to actively seek employment and document your efforts to replace any lost income. This will demonstrate good faith and a desire to meet your financial obligations.
What Should You Do Now?
Dealing with the uncertainty created by the coronavirus is enough, you don’t have to carry the stress of divorce related issues alone. Find out how we can help. Call 856-424-3444 the schedule a virtual meeting.