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 their 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 hearings have now been rescheduled and the courts have resumed operations in varying degrees.
Even though the current Safer at Home order in Wisconsin was overturned by the Wisconsin Supreme Court on May 13, 2020, it is not certain when the courts will be reopening to pre-COVID-19 operations. In Milwaukee County, for example, they have indicated they will not doing in person hearings in the near future and likely not until after September, 2020. Until then, most hearings will be conducted by Zoom or telephone. 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. Contested hearings are, for the most part, proceeding.
In Waukesha County, although they have not announced any specific plans, they have indicated that in-person hearing will not be resuming soon and hearings will be by telephone or Zoom through at least August, 2020.
In Washington county, most hearings are proceeding by Zoom or by telephone. Ozaukee County has resumed in-person court appearances as of June 17, 2020 with all parties being required to wear face masks.
In all counties, they are continuing to hold in person hearings on emergency matters such as domestic abuse restraining orders. Emergency custody or placement enforcement petitions are being heard via Zoom or telephone.
In person hearings, when they resume, will likely look much different with face masks, plexiglass dividers and limits on the number of people in the courtrooms.
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. You must follow that order to the greatest extent possible. Governor Evers “Stay at Home” order considers travel to transport children pursuant to a custody agreement as “essential travel.” 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. Courts are not providing any guidance on what facts would make it permissible to withhold placement as each case is so fact specific. Some courts have commented that even if a party is not found in contempt for withholding placement, they will provide the denied parent make-up time.
If you or the other parent are in self-quarantine and placement is not possible, ensure that the quarantined parent has FaceTime or Skype with the kids. Assure the quarantined parent that once this mandate is lifted, you will work with him/her to provide make-up time.
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.
While the courts have suspended many different in-person hearings as a precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19, each county will continue to issue restraining orders and schedule in-person restraining order hearings. Due to court closures, those who are seeking a temporary restraining order in cases involving domestic violence, abuse, or harassment must file electronically. 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 their 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 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. While we may not be able to schedule an immediate hearing while the courts are under the Supreme Court of Wisconsin’s current orders, support can be retroactively modified back to a date that a motion is filed with the court and served on the other party. 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.