COVID-19 Issue And Concerns
NKM will be here for you during this difficult time!
The coronavirus, or COVID-19, has had and is having an unprecedented impact on individuals and businesses throughout Wisconsin and the United States. It will continue to have a long-lasting effect, regardless of when things return to “normal.” For some, the financial consequences of COVID-19 will be dramatic and devastating.
At Nelson, Krueger & Millenbach, LLC, our team of attorneys and staff is doing our best to stay updated regarding all of the developments related to COVID-19. For existing clients, this will likely impact your case and any upcoming court dates you may have. We will keep you advised to the best of our ability and we are here for you in these uncertain times. Please do not hesitate to contact us with your questions or concerns at (414) 258-1644 or contact us via email, either directly using the links found on the Attorney Profile pages or on the “Contact Us” page.
For prospective clients, we are available for telephone or Zoom consultations. Please contact us at (414) 258-1644 to schedule an appointment or via email on our “Contact Us” page. An intake coordinator will get back to you as soon as possible.
We will regularly be publishing updates about issues involving the coronavirus. You can also check our blog at www.Wisconsinfamilylaw.info for other important information relating to family law and the COVID-19 crisis.
How Will This Affect You and/or Your Family Law Case?
In the beginning of the pandemic and Safer at Home orders, most courts either cancelled hearings, adjourned them or started doing hearings by telephone. However, all courts have resumed operations.
It is not certain when the courts will be reopening to pre-COVID-19 operations. In Milwaukee County, most hearings are being conducted by Zoom or telephone. However, there are in-person hearings now being scheduled. Each judge is using his or her own discretion as to how they want to handle certain types of hearings, including whether to conduct trials by Zoom or in-person Contested hearings and trials are, for the most part, proceeding.
In Waukesha County, most hearings are occuring by telephone or Zoom. Trials and contested hearings are now being scheduled in-person. However, judges and commissioners have discretion as to how they want their hearings scheduled and at least one judge has indicated that he will be conducting all hearings in-person in the near future.
In Washington County, normal operations have resumed with most hearings being scheduled in-person but it is still up to the discretion of the judge or court commissioner whether a hearing will be proceeding by Zoom or by telephone. With the exception of most of the hearings before the family court commissioner, Ozaukee County has resumed normal operations with in-person court appearances.. Face masks are not required in either of those counties.
The attorneys and staff at NKM will continue to keep you apprised of the status of your court hearings as soon as we receive that information.
Custody and Placement:
During this time of uncertainty, is it natural to have questions about custody and placement. It is important to understand that if you currently have a custody or placement order, that order remains in effect. If there are unique circumstances that make placement transfers impossible or dangerous for you or your children, you must do your best to communicate your concern with the other parent. In uncertain times, cooperation and communication are key. Your lawyer cannot advise you to disregard a court order and withhold placement; however, if you decide on your own to withhold placement there could be consequences. In most cases, courts are upholding placement orders and trusting parents to do what is best for their children. Therefore, it is not usually permissible to withhold placement due to COVID concerns.
If you or the other parent are in self-quarantine or isolation and placement is agreed upon, ensure that the quarantined/isolated parent has FaceTime or Skype with the kids.
The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) along with the Association of Family Conciliatory Courts (AFCC) have put together Seven Guidelines for Parents who are Divorced/Separated and Sharing Custody of Children during the COVID19 Pandemic. The content of the article can be found here: https://www.afccnet.org/Portals/0/COVID19Guidelinesfordivorcedparents.FINAL.pdf?ver=2020-03-17-202849-133
If you have questions further questions about Custody and Placement during this uncertain time, give Nelson, Krueger & Millenbach a call, we are here to help you get through this difficult time.
Domestic Violence/Restraining Orders:
We understand that with people staying at home more than is typical, this may lead to unsafe situations for spouses and children. Please contact your local police, immediately, if you or your children are in danger.
Each county continues to issue restraining orders and schedule in-person restraining order hearings. However, the filing of these restraining orders has changed and is generally electronic, rather than in-person. Check with your county to determine the proper procedure and forms to use. Any scheduled hearings for restraining orders in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha Counties will continue to be held. If you have already filed a restraining order, you must attend the hearing, as your restraining order may be dismissed if you fail to appear.
We understand how important it is to maintain your personal safety at such a chaotic time. If you need assistance filing and obtaining a restraining order, or if you have had a restraining order filed against you, our attorneys can provide you with the legal advice to address your legal rights in obtaining, or defending against, a restraining order.
Here is updated information for navigating domestic violence during COVID-19: https://www.familypeacecenter.org/blog/covid-19-resources
Loss of Income and Modification of Child support and Maintenance:
Business closures, unemployment, and disruptions as a result of Covid-19 may impact employment and income. These changes in income will also likely impact the ability to pay child support or maintenance. If you are subject to a court order to pay child support or maintenance, or you have a shared placement child support calculation, and your income changes, you will likely be entitled to a modification of support. Support can be retroactively modified back to a date that a motion is filed with the court and served on the other party, so it is important to file your motion immediately upon a change of income. It will be absolutely necessary to either enter into a Stipulation that is filed with the court to modify support, or file an immediate motion with the court. Remember, you cannot go backwards to modify support until you have filed a motion with the court and served the other party. It is important to contact an attorney at NKM to discuss your legal options.