Celebrities Highlight Family Law Issues During COVID-19

No matter how many assets you have accrued, divorce can cause a sense of panic, regarding your financial situation. You may find yourself suffering from reductions in pay, furloughing, or unemployment, due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. You may be past your divorce and no longer have the ability to pay child and spousal support like you once did, causing your arrears to pile.

With how the pandemic has affected both family law and financial matters, the only difference between you, as someone facing these challenging circumstances and celebrities, who may be going through a divorce or child custody situation, is the amount of accrued assets involved.

Cordell & Cordell CEO, Executive/Managing Partner Scott Trout hosted a Virtual Town Hall on Thursday, May 7, featuring a panel of attorneys from across the United States.

This panel dove into the complexities that celebrities are facing in their divorce, child custody, and child support situations amid COVID-19 and how they can be applied to your situation.

 “The same mistakes that celebrities make are the same that guys watching [the webinar] right now make,” Mr. Trout said. “That’s why I think it’s so relevant to look at what’s in the public eye. Learn from what they’re doing, and don’t make those same mistakes.

Stay off social media

Through the lens of the public divorce of former star of “Laguna Beach” and current owner of the store, Uncommon James, Kristin Cavallari, and former Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, attorneys discussed some of the risks being presented when airing out your grievances through social media.

“There’s really no upside to using social media during a divorce,” Cordell & Cordell Oklahoma Senior Lead Litigator Ron Gore said. “The courts already know that even if you come across well in your social media posts, you’re on stage, and you’re probably acting at your best, hopefully.

“We also are all human, and we all have times, especially in difficult times like a divorce, that we’re not acting as well as we would like toward each other,” Mr. Gore said. “So if you’re acting well, the court may think ‘Oh, it’s just an act. If you’re acting poorly, the court may think ‘They can’t even control their behavior when they know everybody’s seeing it. What are they doing?’ Since there’s no upside and lots of downside, it’s not a good idea.”

You may find that another issue that pops up related to social media and divorce, is the comment thread that surfaces from the post. That can cause additional reactions that can have a negative impact on your case.

“You’re not going to be able to control the comments,” Mr. Gore said. “All of those comments associated with people you don’t even know could be attributed to you, in terms of putting out this overall message.

Asset division vs. child custody settlement

The case between Ms. Cavallari and Mr. Cutler includes a request from Cavallari to be granted $5 million, in order to purchase a house. With marital assets being so contentious during the course of a divorce, this case illustrates how requests like this can be used, in order to achieve interim settlement plans regarding other aspects of the divorce, like child custody.

As well-intentioned as relocating may be, it should not come before your children. With the well-being of your children being of paramount importance in your case, depending on your state, it is necessary to put them before any proceeding regarding asset division, in the eyes of the courts.

“For example, here in Connecticut, if you are starting to discuss assets and purchasing of homes, compared to parenting plans and how that’s going to look, the courts don’t look favorably on that,” Cordell & Cordell Connecticut Senior Lead Litigator Alix Ritter said. “Really, the most important thing is in the interests of these kids and what the parenting plan is going to look like. Generally, here in Connecticut, you don’t get to talk about asset division before you resolve the parenting issues.”

Missing parenting time

The panel weighed in on the case between singer Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale, where Ms. Stefani moved to Oklahoma for quarantine during the pandemic and Mr. Rossdale is unable to get the parenting time that is ordered by the courts.

Like many fathers across the country, you may be separated from your children and not given your court-ordered parenting time, due to having a co-parent who willingly refuses custodial exchanges because of the pandemic. It even becomes more challenging when you do not live close to your co-parent.

“It’s not legal to deny any custody or parenting time,” Cordell & Cordell New Jersey Senior Litigation Attorney Diana Megalla said. “As long as there’s a court order, that court order is place, until there is a new court order or written agreement.”

You may be missing precious parenting time with your child during the pandemic and feel that it is time that needs to be made up. Many courts across the country agree.

“I had a case not too long ago, where we had to file a motion for family access, and it was granted,” Cordell & Cordell Missouri Igers Vangjeli said. “Parenting time can be made up, if you file.”

Filing during COVID-19 is a necessary aspect of settling a family legal dispute. In order to illustrate to the courts that you have a pressing need addressed, that need has to be on file, so that when courts fully open back up, your case can be addressed and the courts can see how pressing the issue was. If you are in need of legal assistance, contact Cordell & Cordell attorneys for help with your divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, modification, or any other family law issue.

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