Impacts of Covid-19 on Family Law Matters
Michigan was named a “hotspot” for Covid-19 and over the past year. It has consumed daily life, between hearing about it on the news, friends, family, employment, etc. it is what everyone has been talking about.
On April 2, 2020, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that all K-12 grade in-school learning would be closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year as a response to the pandemic. As for the 2020-2021 academic year, many school districts turned to virtual learning and the rest returned for in-person learning, with certain covid-19 protocols in place as directed/recommended by the CDC and Health Department. The Governor also that Covid-19 must not affect the continuation of parenting under court ordered plans. However, there were many impacts that continue today.
The impact for some families was minimal. It was as simple as working around the parent’s work schedules and childcare needs. For other families, this caused more difficult issues with regard to the unknowns of child support, custody/parenting time arrangements due to covid-19 exposure and concerns of safety, as well as other family law matters.
With closing schools early for the 2019-2020 academic year, this affected parenting time schedules as the court orders normally include a different parenting time schedule for the school year (regular parenting time), holidays, and summer. Parents were unsure how to continue their parenting time as some parents believed the ending of the in class school year early would end the school year parenting time schedule and start the non in class or summer parenting time schedule whereas the other parents believed that the school year parenting time schedule should be followed until the school year was supposed to end. Parents wanting to start the non-school year schedule were entrenched in that belief. Parents who thought it should follow the school year schedule were entrenched as well. This is where many parents turned to the Courts for answers.
In some co-parenting situations, one parent had concerns about exposure at the other parent’s household or different beliefs about quarantine for the child. Some thought it should be with themselves indefinitely due the concerns. Under ordinary circumstances this would be a best-case scenario where the Court would grant make-up parenting time and in a worst-case scenario the Court would deem this a violation of the parenting time order. The questions and issues continue even though we are now many months into the pandemic.
Covid-19 also affected child support as MCL 552.605b(2) states that child support continues until either a. when the child turns 18, or b. if the child is in high school full-time with a reasonable expectation to graduate on or before 19 ½. The abrupt end to the 2019-2020 academic school year had many parents ordered to receive child support and whose child turned 18 before completing high school concerned.
The Courts stated and continue to state that parents who are in co-parenting situations should contact each other to try to reach an agreement on the issues before filing motions. More impacts will likely come to light as Michigan Covid-19 protocols wind down and as in-person activities resume like before. We will see the impact of Covid-19 in our family law courts for quite some time.
The attorneys at Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates are experienced attorneys who change with the times to meet the needs of their clients. Contact the Milford, Michigan law office of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates at 248-676-1000 for assistance. The attorneys of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates practice law throughout Southeastern Michigan including Oakland, Wayne, Washtenaw, Genesee and Livingston counties. The attorneys handle cases in Milford; Highland; Hartland; White Lake; Wixom; Commerce; Walled Lake; Waterford; West Bloomfield; Linden; Fenton; Flint; Grand Blanc; Holly; South Lyon; New Hudson; Howell; Clare; Gladwin; Houghton Lake; Higgins Lake; and many more Michigan communities. And soon to be opening another office in Dadeville, Alabama.
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