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Breaking Down The Law: Resolving family law issues during coronavirus pandemic

We have now been under an Emergency Declaration for over 2 weeks here in Nevada.

Many businesses have been forced to close, and schools have gone to online learning programs.

Local courts have also closed for in-person appearances, outside of very limited circumstances.

But people involved with things like divorce, child support, and child custody, still need the court system, especially with people losing their jobs and not being able to pay child support.

Here to discuss the current state of the courts and what you can do if you need them is attorney Matt Hoffmann with Battle Born Injury Lawyers.

1. Starting with child support, because this is such a big issue. If someone is not receiving their child support, what can they do given the current status of the courts?

- First things first, the courts are still open.
- They are just not allowing in-person appearances.

- So the easy answer is to get an attorney, who can still e-file documents on your behalf and appear at hearings via video or telephonic appearance.
- I just argued a motion in court via video this morning.

- However, not everyone can afford to hire an attorney to represent them for something like enforcing a child support order.

- For those without an attorney, the Family Law Self-Help Center is still open and available by both email and telephone.
- They can help walk you through the steps of filling out paperwork and filing it with the court under the current requirements; they can also help give information on telephonic appearances.

- If you already have a Child Support Order in place, a great resource is the District Attorney Family Support Division. They can help enforce existing child support orders.

2. What about people who were previously ordered to pay child support but have now lost their job. What are their options? Can the child support amount be adjusted or can they get a forbearance?

- The short answer is “Yes,” they can apply to have the order modified.
- However, this can only be done once every 3 years.
- So if you’ve had a previous order adjusted in the last 3 years, you cannot do it again until 3 years have passed.

- You have to show a 20% change, or more, in a parent’s gross income, or a change in custody.
- But there is nothing wrong with working out agreements without the court, if there is a good relationship.
- So let’s say a parent lost their job but the other parent is still employed. A possible agreement could be reached to have the now unemployed parent who was paying child support take the child or children full time in exchange for not making payments until they get their job back.
- But any agreements outside the court system should absolutely be put in writing and acknowledged by both sides.
- Emails work perfect for this.

3. And what about things like domestic violence - say someone needs a Temporary Protective Order? How can they do that now?

- The Family Law Self-Help Center is handling those by phone.
- Anyone who needs help can contact them and they will assist in applying for TPOs.
- For these type of hearings, the court will allow in-person appearances. But parties are encouraged to appear by phone or video.