May 18, 2020

Co-parenting During COVID-19

For divorced parents and separated families, co-parenting can be tough throughout the year. Now with the world going through the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, this brings its own challenges and stressors for families who are following child custody agreements.

As schools and daycares close and “stay at home” orders extended, it’s important that both parents come together to make a plan based on the best interests for their children. It can be a complicated time to co-parent, but it’s not impossible. For example, if one parent is an essential worker exposed to many people or potentially the virus, it’s a smart decision for the children to live with the other parent temporarily full time.

For many parents, it can be very hard to not see their children when they usually could. To create some normalcy for both the parent and child, it’s a good idea to talk on the phone or video chat often. The other parent can also come by and “visit” in a social distancing sort of way and see and talk to the children from a safe distance.

These are uncertain, unprecedented, and stressful times for most people throughout the world and parents need to work well together to help their children get through this time without creating any additional stress or worry — this is a time for parents to put differences aside and figure out what is best for the child(ren) until this pandemic has come to pass.

If neither parent is an essential worker, the parents can choose to stick to the normal co-parenting plan and just take the proper precautions and follow CDC guidelines (washing hands, wearing masks, social distancing, no touching the face, etc.) to stay safe. This way, each parent knows he/she is bringing the children to a safe environment. By keeping a normal, routine, and consistent, schedule, both the parents and children will feel more at ease.

If parents cannot agree on what’s best for the children during this time, legally, the parents need to try to abide by the court order that is currently in place for them that defines their visitation and custody schedule. You can reach out to a mediator by phone who was involved prior about your co-parenting plan to help you reach an agreement.

If the parents cannot agree on something that can pose as a great risk to the child, the parents may be able to get a hearing with the court via video chat. The judge would have to deem the risk very serious for him/her to change the current custody agreement.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its social distancing/quarantine guidelines are temporary. It’s best for everyone if the parents can make decisions that are best for the children’s mental states and safety and rise above their desires and bickering to make a temporary change in the co-parenting plan. Communication between the parents is crucial to navigating co-parenting through this hard time.

Also, both parents should talk to their children about COVD-19 in a way they will understand. Let them know what the risks are and what safety precautions need to be taken to stay safe, so the children will also understand why their schedule has to temporarily change. Be positive, calm and reassuring when you discuss this topic with them as your children will take your lead in how you react to the virus. Both parents should be available and make time to talk to their children when needed or necessary.

If you or your child get sick during this time, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have COVID-19. Many viruses have similar symptoms. Call a healthcare facility and let them know who is sick and what the symptoms are, and the medical professionals will determine if you need to come in and be tested for the virus.

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts have released a set of guidelines for co-parenting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Be Healthy – Comply with all CDC, local, and state guidelines. Be a good role model with frequent hand washing, wiping down surfaces, practice social distancing, and stay informed with the facts and avoid rumors.
2. Be Mindful – Remain calm and reassure your child(ren) that life will get back to normal.
3. Be Compliant – Follow the rules of the court orders and custody agreements, as close as possible.
4. Be Creative – Do your best to stay compliant, but change the plan as needed as some parents may have to work more or have lost a job. If one parent now has the children for longer, make sure you give them access to the other parent through video chats or phone calls.
5. Be Transparent – Let the other parent know if you think you or the child(ren) have been exposed to the virus or have been sick. Discuss self-quarantining if you are worried about exposure. Talk about steps to take to protect your child(ren).
6. Be Generous – Try to provide makeup time if one parent is missing out during this time.
7. Be Understanding – These are financially hard times for many. If one parent cannot afford the child support, try to offer what you can during this time. The receiving parent should be accommodating considering these difficult circumstances.

Need a Family Lawyer in Jacksonville, FL?

It’s best for you and the other parent come to an agreement during this time, even if no one is crazy about the plan – it is what is best for the children. If you cannot figure out a new co-parenting plan, reach out to us at the Dorsey Law Firm.

We can create changes in writing to your custody agreement if you’re agreeing to different terms, especially if you think one parent might take advantage of this new plan. We will write up the new plan and include a stipulation that this plan has an end date and it will be filed when the courts are open.

This pandemic will end, and life will return to normal. Try your best to be calm, patient, and understanding during this time.

Many things feel out of control right now. It’s essential to remember that this hardship, no matter how long it lasts, will eventually end.

William J. Dorsey is a family law attorney and understands each divorce has a unique parenting plan. Give us a call and we can help you put together a new, temporary plan, if needed.

As a Jacksonville divorce attorney, with more than 35 years of experience in the state of Florida, Dorsey knows Florida divorce law and how to apply it to get his clients the best possible outcome. He guides his clients through the entire process.

If you are considering a new co-parenting plan, our team would be happy to help you learn more about the process in Florida. By hiring a divorce attorney, you’re laying the groundwork for a better result.

William J. Dorsey founded the Dorsey Law Firm in 1975 and has practiced family law and tried numerous trials throughout Florida in state and federal courts.
To request your consultation with The Dorsey Law Firm’s Jacksonville Law Office or if you have any questions, call 904-346-3883 or click our Jacksonville Divorce Attorney page for more information.

May 18, 2020

Quarantining with a Domestic Abuser

Although the “stay at home” orders and social distancing are flattening the curve when it comes to the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and keeping us healthy, it’s not a safe situation for everyone. Many domestic violence victims are trapped at home with their abuser, which means they are in a more unsafe situation than ever before.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline received 951 calls in a two-week period from domestic violence victims who say their abusers are using COVID-19 against them to harm them or to further control and abuse them. People are losing their jobs due to COVID-19 and historically, as unemployment rises so do the levels of domestic violence.

In Florida, some Florida police agencies and shelters for abused are getting less calls as domestic violence victims have less privacy to make a phone call if their children are home all day and their abuser. With social distancing orders in place, it’s harder for victims to find a safe place to go in fear or spreading or contracting the coronavirus. It’s also harder or currently not possible for friends/family/coworkers/school faculty to post when someone is exhibiting signs of abuse due to social distancing and quarantine.

Family lawyers are receiving fewer calls, as well, but believe there will be an influx of calls once the stay at home orders are lifted.

With fewer calls to domestic violence help services and lawyers, it seems that domestic violence victims may not be aware that help is still available.

During these uncertain times, domestic violence victims may be feeling more trapped and helpless than ever as it appears far more difficult to leave their situations.

However, some relief organizations for the battered have seen an increase in calls during this time. In fact, they’ve received double the calls a day from victims than before quarantine. Also, relief centers and shelters have had to decrease the numbers of emergency beds available to abide by social distancing guidelines.

Many people are still confused as to if the courts are still open. In Duval County and many other counties in Florida, they are open and taking domestic violence cases and emergency situations are still getting the court’s attention. It is believed there will be a huge surge in petitions to be filed at the courthouses as victims feel safer to leave their homes and make phone calls.

If you are a domestic violence victim or know someone who is, you can still get help during COVID-19. Shelters are open and screening for COVID-19 symptoms. Advocates at the National Domestic Violence Hotline are available 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Survivors can also chat with advocates here.
Other assistance available includes:

  • Report domestic violence by calling 911.
  • Visit the Shelters in Duval County page.
  • Read information about domestic violence in Duvel County Clerk of Courts page.

Looking for a Family Lawyer in Jacksonville, FL?

At Dorsey Law Firm, we wanted to let you know, you are not alone during these hard times. If you are able, please seek out help to get protection from your abuser. We will be here for you for any family law matter or emergency, whether it’s a divorce matter or domestic violence injunction.

William J. Dorsey is a family law attorney and understands the seriousness and timeliness of domestic violence cases.

As a Jacksonville family law attorney, with more than 35 years of experience in the state of Florida, Dorsey knows Florida divorce law and family law and how to apply it to get his clients the best possible outcome. He guides his clients through any family law process they are going through.

If you are considering divorce or a domestic violence injunction during COVID-19 or any time, our team would be happy to help you learn more about these processes in Florida. By hiring a family law attorney, you’re laying the groundwork for a better result, especially if your divorce is complicated.

William J. Dorsey founded the Dorsey Law Firm in 1975 and has practiced family law and tried numerous trials throughout Florida in state and federal courts.
To request your consultation at The Dorsey Law Firm’s Jacksonville Law Office or if you have any questions, call 904-346-3883 or click our Jacksonville Family Law Attorney page for more information.

 

April 13, 2020

Things to Keep in Mind When First Meeting with a Divorce Lawyer

Getting a divorce is a hard decision. Once you and your spouse have agreed upon a divorce, you need to look for a divorce lawyer and make an appointment to meet with him or her. Now, what? 

Meeting with a divorce lawyer for the first time can fill a person with many emotions like fear, anxiety, stress, and sadness. This meeting is a big step. If this is your first time going through a divorce, you may not know what to expect or what you should do ahead of time. 

At Dorsey Law Firm, we wanted to share some tips, advice, and thoughts on things you should keep in mind before and during your first meeting with a divorce attorney. The better you are prepared with information, the better your attorney can serve you. 

  • Try not to focus on the negatives of your current marriage ending, but focus on the positive things that you want in your post-divorce life. 
  • Write down a list of questions you want to ask the attorney. 
  • Be prepared to be asked questions about your spouse, children (if you have any), finances, assets, and goals.  
  • This first meeting is a time for the attorney to get to know you.  
  • The attorney will describe the different divorce processes to you (mediation, collaborative law, litigation). 
  • The attorney may refer you to a psychotherapist, divorce coach, estate attorney or financial planner depending on your situation.  Remember, a divorce attorney is just an attorney and cannot give you expertise in other fields. 
  • This first meeting/consultation with the attorney will determine if he/she will be a good fit for you. 
  • Even though this is the initial meeting, do not lie about your situation – this will only complicate matters for you and the attorney. 
  • Do not feel pressured to make any decisions during this first meeting.  

Don’t feel pressured to work with the first divorce attorney you meet. It’s perfectly normal to have consulted with a few different divorce attorneys to find the one you feel will best help you during this process. 

When you meet with an attorney, look for a divorce attorney who makes you feel comfortable, is sensitive to your needs and emotional state, and can explain things clear terms for you. You will be spending a lot of time with this attorney, so it is a good idea to find someone you work well with.  

Before the initial meeting, do some research on the attorney.  Look for:

  • Reviews 
  • Years of experience in family law/divorce law
  • Case of professional misconduct against them 

We pride ourselves on the hundreds of positive reviews we have received.

Divorce isn’t a simple process; it’s life-changing. You want an attorney who will help you every step of the way, explain your rights, options, and responsibilities in a clear way. 

Need a Divorce Lawyer in Jacksonville, FL?

This may be your first divorce, but it’s not ours.  By keeping the above tips in mind, you will feel more comfortable and prepared to meet and choose an attorney. 

William J. Dorsey is a divorce attorney and understands each divorce case is unique. Getting through the divorce process isn’t easy, but it is can be made a lot easier by working with a skilled attorney. 

As a Jacksonville divorce attorney,  with more than 35 years of experience in the state of Florida, Dorsey knows Florida divorce law and how to apply it to get his clients the best possible outcome. He guides his clients through the entire divorce process. 

If you are considering divorce, our team would be happy to help you learn more about the divorce process in Florida.  By hiring a divorce attorney, you’re laying the groundwork for a better result, especially if your divorce is complicated. 

William J. Dorsey founded the Dorsey Law Firm in 1975 and has practiced family law and tried numerous trials throughout Florida in state and federal courts. 

 To request your in-person consultation at The Dorsey Law Firm’s Jacksonville Law Office or if you have any questions,  call 904-346-3883 or click our Jacksonville Divorce Attorney page for more information. 

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P: 904-394-2865 | F: 904-358-8060 | Email: Dorsey Law Firm

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COVID-19 Update

 

As the situation around COVID-19 continues to evolve, we will remain open until further notice. As always, the well-being of our clients and staff remains our highest priority, therefore we have taken precautions recommended by global and local public health authorities to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

 

— We have encouraged our staff to practice social distancing by reducing physical contact with others to ensure we can continue to work for our clients.
— Requiring all client meetings and consultations to be conducted virtually.
— We are happy to have meetings with you via phone, online conferencing, as well as through email.
— Our team will continue to fulfill court obligations with the new methods required by the courts as they remain open telephonically.

 

If you’re in immediate need, including any family law, criminal law, or personal injury matter, don’t hesitate to contact us with questions.

 

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