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divorced dad law guardian ad litemDivorce cases can become complicated quickly, especially when children are involved. While some divorcing parents are able to work together to reach agreements on how they will handle child custody, others may find it difficult or impossible to cooperate, requiring them to settle these matters in court. When family court judges are asked to make decisions about child-related issues, they may feel that they do not have enough information to determine what is best for the children, and they may appoint a guardian ad litem to assist in this area. A guardian ad litem may also be appointed at the request of either parent.

What is a Guardian ad Litem?

A guardian ad litem, or GAL, is usually an attorney who has received training in child-related issues. The GAL will act as a representative for the child or children, and their goal is to determine how to resolve child custody issues in a way that will provide for the children’s best interests. After being appointed, the GAL will perform an investigation, which may include meeting with the individual parents, interviewing the children, visiting the parents’ homes, observing the parents while they are caring for their children, and speaking to other people who may have insight into the case, such as teachers, doctors, therapists, daycare providers, or extended family members.

In some cases, a GAL may work with the parents to help them reach agreements about child custody matters, while in others, they may provide a report to the judge that offers recommendations about how these issues should be handled. These recommendations will be based on what the GAL believes is in the children’s best interests, and while the GAL will consider the children’s wishes, they will also weigh other factors involved in the case. If a trial will be needed in the divorce or child custody case, the GAL may be called as a witness and asked questions by both parties’ attorneys.

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Parenting plan modifications during the coronavirus pandemicThe coronavirus pandemic has thrown nearly everyone’s lives into disarray. While most people have had to cope with difficulties related to stay-at-home orders, changing work schedules, or unemployment, many of these adjustments have been particularly hard for parents due to school closures and the need to care for children while working from home. If you are a divorced parent, you might be struggling to balance your responsibilities while also following your court-ordered parenting time schedule, and you may be wondering whether you can make temporary changes to your parenting arrangements to address your needs during this difficult time. 

Temporary Modifications to Parenting Agreements

In most cases, you are allowed to modify your parenting plan temporarily, as long as you and the other parent agree on the changes that you plan to make. Ideally, you’ll want to work together with your ex-spouse and make reasonable accommodations to meet each other’s needs. For instance, if you are working from home while your ex is required to go into the office, you may agree that your kids will stay with you during the day, even if this would not normally be part of your scheduled parenting time.

Even though you’re encouraged to cooperate with your ex during this time and find ways you can make changes that will meet each other’s needs, it’s a good idea to keep a record of your communications and make sure you have a written agreement in place for the temporary modifications you will be making. This can help you avoid problems if disputes arise in the future, and you will be able to show that you acted reasonably and did your best to find solutions that work for everyone.

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Divorce during COVID-19The COVID-19 crisis has had a huge impact on all of our lives. Even if you haven’t been directly affected by an infection, you’ve probably had to deal with inconveniences due to being required to stay at home or maintain social distancing. In the worst cases, people have lost their jobs, been unable to make rent or mortgage payments, or suffered devastating losses due to the illness or death of family members. Along with all of these other concerns, many people’s marriages have been pushed to the breaking point or beyond due to the stresses and difficulties they are experiencing. If you’re considering getting divorced, you may need to deal with some issues and concerns that you wouldn’t have to address in other circumstances. During the divorce process, you’ll want to keep the following in mind:

  1. Figure out how to separate while sharing a home - Moving out of your home and finding new living arrangements might be difficult right now. Due to concerns about infections, you may not want to visit potential new houses or apartments, or you may simply be unable to afford to move because of your financial situation. However, sharing a home with your spouse might seem impossible when your relationship has broken down. You may want to agree that each of you will mostly stay in your own separate areas of your house, and you could create schedules for when each of you will use shared areas such as the kitchen or family room. By figuring out how to make things work while you continue to live together, you can avoid conflicts and arguments and decrease stress during an already difficult time.

  2. Determine court procedures - Currently, many courts have closed or are operating at limited capacity to avoid spreading infections. However, courts will typically be able to address emergency issues, such as domestic violence or orders of protection, if the need arises. As you proceed with the divorce process, you’ll need to understand how procedures might have changed. In some cases, courts might hold virtual hearings, allowing you to address matters without actually entering the courtroom. Your divorce lawyer can help you understand what steps you’ll need to take as you go through the divorce process.

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Domestic violence and orders of protection during the coronavirus pandemicMany families are struggling with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Job losses have caused significant financial difficulties for many people, and requirements to stay at home have caused some family relationships to suffer. The different forms of stress that people are experiencing in their homes may lead to serious relationship issues between family members. Based on trends from previous disasters, some are concerned that the rates of domestic violence will increase as the crisis continues. If you are a father who needs help addressing family violence, or if you have been accused of committing abuse or violence against a family member, you should be sure to understand your legal options and the steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.

Addressing Domestic Violence and Abuse

Domestic abuse and family violence is an issue that can affect both men and women. While one third of the women in the U.S. have experienced violence by an intimate partner during their lifetime, one fourth of men have also experienced this type of abuse. While the jury is still out about whether domestic violence has increased during the coronavirus crisis, the requirements imposed on families during the pandemic may cause a family’s existing problems to intensify, which can lead to dangerous situations.

The isolation that many families are experiencing is likely to be a major factor in domestic abuse cases. A person who commits abuse will often seek to control their partner by cutting them off from other forms of support, such as friends and family members. Stay-at-home orders that limit contact with others may end up increasing the cycle of abuse experienced by a victim. When combined with the stress families are already experiencing, financial difficulties, and the high potential for substance abuse, this situation may turn a relationship that is already experiencing problems into an environment where family members’ safety and well-being is threatened.

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