31 Mar Law in the Time of Corona

Life has changed.  But conflict has not.

In the world of family law, we are the business of helping people navigate conflict. We at Helmers+Associates are still here and will continue to be throughout this crisis.

The courts are largely closed. They are still hearing some emergencies, including child abuse and domestic violence cases. Unfortunately, abuse and neglect cases, as well as domestic violence cases, are likely to increase during the crisis, according to most experts.

Modern technology allows us to continue much of our work. In lieu of in-person office visits, we can video-conference with you, as well as with opposing parties. We are also working cooperatively to address disputes for clients — sometimes with settlement conferences; other times with mediations.  Many times, short-term resolutions are reached with opposing counsel, and an agreed order can be instantly e-filed with the court.

Additionally, on March 30, the Kentucky Secretary of State issued an emergency provision that permits notaries to affirm signatures via video-conferencing. This will streamline the work for lawyers and clients, allowing for documents to be signed while maintaining a safe “social distance.”

We can also initiate new cases, including Custody, Divorce, Child Support, and Adoption cases. The advantage of acting now with respect to these matters is that certain timelines apply. If filed now, the clock starts ticking on those timelines. For example, a divorce decree in Kentucky requires that the parties live apart for 60 days prior to being finalized. If there are children born during the marriage, then a divorce may not be granted until 60 days after the service of the divorce complaint. The result of this means that filing the divorce petition with the court now can mean your divorce can be over sooner.

Regarding custody and visitation, the Kentucky Supreme Court has entered an order providing clarification of custody and parenting time. Even though your existing orders are controlling, the Court orders that “reasonable accommodations shall be made to account for extenuating circumstances related to the COVID-19 emergency.” We are happy to further explain this if you have questions or are experiencing conflicts with your child’s other parent.

We sincerely hope that you and your loved ones all remain safe at this challenging time. Please take care of yourselves. For your peace of mind, don’t let social distancing and quarantine cause you to put off your family law needs. We are here to help, so please don’t hesitate to call.

Update: Please find links to other Kentucky Court Orders issued and Legislation passed pertaining to the Covid-19 crisis here:
4/1/2020 Extension of Filing Deadlines for Supreme Court of Kentucky and Kentucky Court of Appeals