How Coronavirus (COVID-19) Could Affect Child Access & Divorce in Texas

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic, the Texas Supreme Court and many local court jurisdictions have released administrative orders and guidance on the limitations to be placed on court systems. Today, we sit down with Attorney David S. Bouschor, II, who is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, to discuss some key questions being asked in these uncertain times.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Child Possession & Access in Texas

How do the closings of schools or the extensions of spring vacations by COVID-19 affect my possession schedule for my child?

The Texas Family Code standard possession schedule did not take into account the possibility of a pandemic and schools not reopening as scheduled. Presently, we’re dealing with Spring Break. Many school districts have stated that they are “extending the spring break,” and many orders’ possession schedule language states that the visitation ends when school resumes after spring break. All schools had a published calendar for the spring break. The fact that schools are not resuming as per their schedules is having to be dealt with on a wide scale throughout the state.

The courts cannot give advisory opinions, but the courts in Dallas, Denton, and other locations have taken a stated position that the Courts will be looking at the school’s original published schedule when considering what constitutes “Spring Break.” If someone is going to take advantage of the “hole” in the standard possession schedule, there is possible guidance to show that the courts are not likely to look on that kindly.

While many local courts have canceled what they are deeming non-essential court proceedings due to COVID-19, recovering your child through an enforcement, such as a writ or habeas proceeding, is not one of those items, in most counties. While there will be a question as to if your order is enforceable by contempt, the courts can still order remedies such as, turn your child back to you, award make-up time, and even award attorney’s fees without finding the other party in contempt.

Every order is different, every court is different, and the particular facts of your case are unique. What it comes down to is if you have this situation, you need to call us. We need to review your specific facts, order, and your court’s posture to advise you.

If it’s going to take me time to get my child back, will I get make up time?

You absolutely can ask for make up time and attorneys fees. Depending on the specific facts of your case, there may be additional things we can ask for as well.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Child Support in Texas

If I lose my job because of COVID-19 impacts, how will this affect my child support?

Modification cases, such as a modification of child support, are not one of the cases that are currently available under most courts’ COVID-19 emergency orders however, almost all the courts’ orders are in standing for the next 30 days. So if you lose your job because of COVID-19, it’s important you come to speak with us as soon as possible so we can review your order, your specific court’s present posture, and provide you with the information you need to make the best decisions possible. Each county is different, and this is a very fluid situation that is changing daily, if not hourly. We will work with you to get the best outcome possible.

Will Coronavirus (COVID-19) Affect My Divorce?

How does the COVID-19 going to affect my active divorce proceeding?

At present, the COVID-19 emergency orders won’t likely affect your divorce proceedings much unless your case was set for trial or a jury trial in the next 30 days when such cases will likely be continued. Deadlines for discovery, mediation, and other items in scheduling orders will not likely be affected under the posture apparent today. However, each case and court are different. It should be recognized that the process could take more time as court facilities are limited, so it is important to seek information from an experienced attorney.

For collaborative law cases, none of these issues should affects the process as by their nature, the cases are settled outside the court system. The finalization of your case may take some time to schedule with certain courts, but that too will be on a case by case bases.

Can I continue to work to settle my case even if I experience delays?

In short, yes we can. It should be understood that for at least the next 30 days, some court settings and items may be pushed back. Anything beyond that time frame depends on the COVID-19 emergency response. Mediations and settlement negotiations can continue. It’s possible that delays of trials even allow you to settle your case as parties could be more willing to come to the table.

The Law Office of David S. Bouschor, II, P.C. recognizes that clients, family members, and friends may be negatively affected by COVID-19 global pandemic. Our thoughts are with those who have been impacted. To that end, our teams are taking every precaution to prevent potential service disruptions. We are prepared to leverage remote technology, alternate work locations for employees, and detailed continuity plans to continue to provide you with the highest level of legal services.

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Our office is also offering to conduct consultations by phone and/or video conference with secure document review capabilities. Please contact us today.

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