Divorcing While Assets Are Devalued, Answer to a Common Question about Parenting Schedules, the Increased Risk of Abuse and Neglect When Schools Close, and Tips for Coparenting during Social Distancing: A COVID-19 Reading Roundup

April 6, 2020 K.O. Herston 0 Comments

A lot of changes have taken place in a short time.

That’s quite an understatement.

Tennessee courts remain closed to in-person hearings through the end of April, except for a few exceptions like emergency child-custody matters and orders of protection.

In my office, we’re adjusting to working remotely. We’re striving to maintain some sense of normalcy in these abnormal times.

Herston videoconference
Video conferencing whenever possible

I’ve always thought of practicing law as a largely solitary pursuit. I spend a lot of time preparing for depositions and trials, studying the law, and explaining things to clients. It feels like I’m alone much of the time.

But now that courts and my office are closed, I realize how social the practice of family law is.

I miss it.

I miss running into lawyers, judges, and clerks at the courthouse, at lunch, or just walking around downtown. These folks are more than colleagues — they’re my friends, and I miss seeing them.

I miss seeing my staff throughout the day.

I miss seeing our clients in person, shaking their hands, and putting them at ease during this stressful time.

I gained a new appreciation for how meaningful all those interactions are. I miss them terribly.

One thing that has helped is video conferencing on Zoom, Google’s Meet, or Cisco’s WebX. It’s not the same as being face-to-face, but it’ll have to do for a while.

Last week, the East Tennessee Collaborative Alliance conducted a continuing legal education seminar for 17 lawyers — all by video conference.

ETCA meeting
ETCA members find a way to get things done.

So, we’re managing. We’re figuring it out as we go. We’re staying safe. We’re doing our part to flatten the curve.

What are you missing during this time of physical distancing? How are you coping? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Meanwhile, here are some news articles of interest:

Should you divorce while asset values are low and before markets bounce back? The Daily Mail tackles that question:

Interestingly, Laura Naser, senior associate family lawyer at Penningtons Manches Cooper, said they have been contacted by a number of high net worth clients who had previously stayed in unhappy marriages due to the financial loss they would suffer if they left.

“For many, their inquiries are to divorce now while their asset base is lowered and before the markets bounce back,” she told FEMAIL.

“This is particularly attractive to those whose divorce was a matter of timing and it is opportunistic for them to finalize a financial settlement on divorce if they think their non-cash assets, such as a business or shares, may be managed back to value post-crisis.”

“For others, it’s with concern about settlements they have agreed to before the downturn and their ability to now afford the settlement terms.”

She said they are viewing the current financial crisis as an opportunity to agree to an advantageous divorce settlement.

When schools close and spring break is “extended,” how does that affect a parenting schedule? The Texas Supreme Court weighs in:

Many divorcees follow the Texas standard possession order that says the custodial parent, whom the child lives with, and the noncustodial parent, will alternate years to keep their children on spring break. This year, many noncustodial parents had possession of their children over spring break, and their orders directing them to return the child the evening before school resumes.

The novel coronavirus hit Texas at spring break, leading many school districts to announce weekslong school closures by saying they were “extending spring break.”
“There’s quite a bit of stress and almost panic,” said Holly Rampy Baird, partner in Orsinger Nelson Downing Anderson in Dallas. “This is more uncertainty on top of the most uncertain situation our nation, and society, has faced in a long time.”

“Many noncustodial parents who had spring break this year looked at their order and said, ‘It means I get two weeks,’” Baird said.

Panic ensued among the custodial parents who wanted their children returned as if the school closures did not happen. Also, because courts across the state have said they are only handling essential cases and postponing hearings and trials in nonessential cases, these parents didn’t know if courts would agree to hear their disputes about who keeps the kids, Baird said.

The Texas Supreme Court settled the issue Tuesday in its second emergency order of the pandemic, ruling that the originally published school schedule will control.

“Possession and access shall not be affected by the school’s closure that arises from an epidemic or pandemic, including what is commonly referred to as the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the order, which added that parents are still allowed to change the possession schedule if they agree on the changes.

How can parents accommodate physical distancing and quarantines while exercising parenting time? The Washington Post takes a look:

Across the country, as Americans adjust to the new normal — working from home, online schooling and social distancing — many families also are grappling with co-parenting through a pandemic. Even under ideal circumstances, shuttling kids between households or coordinating parental visits can be trying. Throw in the need to “flatten the curve,” and you’ve got a recipe for major stress and potential conflict.
Parents may disagree about whether kids should maintain the parental visitation schedule and how much kids should be going out in the world.

Will school closures increase a child’s risk of being subjected to abuse and neglect? USA Today investigates:

Hundreds of thousands of vulnerable U.S. children could face a heightened risk of abuse and neglect as coronavirus-related school closures keep them at home and away from the nation’s biggest group of hotline tipsters: educators.

Teachers, administrators, school counselors, and other educational professionals report one in every five child-mistreatment claims in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Other major sources include law enforcement and social workers.

Those reports could plummet, experts predict, as children’s social circles contract to just family members, which collectively represent just 12% of hotline calls.

Divorcing While Assets Are Devalued, Answer to a Common Question about Parenting Schedules, the Increased Risk of Abuse and Neglect When Schools Close, and Tips for Coparenting during Social Distancing: A COVID-19 Reading Roundup was last modified: April 5th, 2020 by K.O. Herston

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