Our clients are concerned about the long term effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and how that may affect their divorce proceedings and current financial obligations in post judgment situations. For example, did a spouse lose their job as a result of Covid-19 while their divorce proceedings were pending? What happens for the spouse that had to close their family restaurant as a result of the governor’s Executive Orders? What does this do the value of the business for purposes of equitable distribution? Clients are concerned that they will not be able to afford their child support and alimony payments based upon the dramatically changed financial climate of the country, let alone the world. These are all very real and serious concerns facing the courts and given the novelty of Covid-19 and the economic & health concerns surrounding same.
Relief from financial obligations in the Family Court is found when permanent changes in circumstance are evident. Temporary changes would ordinarily not afford an obligor with relief from a child support or alimony obligation. However, the family court is a court of equity which means that the applications of the law is very fact sensitive and requires the law be applied in a fair and equitable manner. Courts will need to consider facts such as how long the income of one party is expected to remain reduced? How long will the recovery of a restaurant’s business take once the businesses are permitted to reopen? What effect will the social distancing requirements have on capacity and ability to serve less than a “normal” number of customers? It is very possible that some areas of industry will be eliminated as a result of this pandemic or will be dramatically changed as a result. The court cannot simply ignore these facts and it will be a challenge to resolve these issues in the coming months and even, possibly, years.
Shane and White, LLC is here to help you and get through the maze of issues that Covid-19 has caused. Please contact us at 732-819-9100 to discuss your options.