Hello again dear clients and friends of BFL,
This new coronavirus is serious and likely will be with us for a while. The most important thing is that you take all necessary precautions to keep yourself and those around you safe. Stay Home and follow the most current directives of the CDC.
BFL is open and ready to help you while we all learn to live differently in this unprecedented time. We are working from our homes, and monitoring your cases. We are available to meet with you by video and talk by phone. Of course, you always can email us, as usual.Court Update:
The doors to the Courts of Pennsylvania are closed through the end of April. However, they are open for partial business. What does this mean for you?
- Limited Emergency Hearings are Happening:
- Emergency Custody Hearings are being Scheduled;
- Protection From Abuse Hearings are being Scheduled;
If you feel unsafe in your home- contact the police, dial 911 and you will get a temporary PFA; We will be available for your PFA hearing.
- Filings are being accepted by mail.
- We can file Divorce Complaints;
- We can file Modifications of Custody;
- We can file Modifications of Support - especially for support, it is important to file early even if we can't get a hearing, as any Order that will issue is retroactive to the filing date.
- Now is a good time to consider Mediation and/or Arbitration
- Courts likely will be backed up for months when they resume regular business
- Judges will feel even more pressure than usual to get through their calendars
- Mediation always is a good solution to take control of your matter, and now more than ever, it offers an opportunity to resolve your case in the way that YOU want.
- These are unusual and unsettled times. You may wish to resolve financial and family matters now, rather than waiting. Now is the time to get things in order.
- You also can do interim agreements in mediation, to get by until things settle down.
Phyllis is available to do non-contact Mediations using Zoom, and encourages parties to contact her to discuss this option.
There are reasons why you may wish to file matters now, or hold off. There are further excellent reasons to Mediate matters now, and to try to reach settlements before the end of the year. For more details on all of this, click here to go to the blogs that I have written on this.
I hope you still are well and managing to stay positive. I know things may be getting uncomfortable as we face this unknown situation.
It is unlikely that the COVID-19 impact will be short-lived, so I encourage you to buckle down, get some good books, movie lists, work on those closets that can use cleaning, and think about getting your financial and legal affairs in order.
For some prior clients and, those of you who have received closing letters from us, you know that I recommend having up-to-date wills and powers of attorney.
If you didn't get around to those updates before - who does? Now is a really good time to do it.Be Prepared With Your Legal Documents
I encourage everyone to have a current General Power of Attorney and Health Care Directive- and make sure it is signed.
If you already have these documents, make sure that your loved ones know where to find them.Make Sure Your Beneficiary Designations are Up-to-Date
Another thing that we write about in our closing letters is to remind you to make sure that beneficiary designations in retirement plans and life insurance policies are up-to-date. Again, I understand that this may not have been the first thing on your mind, but now is a good time to review those plans and ensure that your wishes are appropriately recorded.
For current clients, you may not change beneficiary designations while a case is pending. You also may not change or delete a spouse from health insurance while a divorce matter is pending. If you have questions about this, please call me.Spousal and Child Support
If you are receiving support, this should continue uninterrupted. If for any reason you do not receive a support payment, call your domestic relations contact, AND contact me. I do not yet know whether support hearings will be postponed. I will contact you on a case by case basis if you have a hearing coming up.
If you have been laid off or had hours reduced and are paying or receiving support, please call me to discuss what next steps we should take.Custody
I hope that everyone is cooperating when it comes to custody. Now (as always) but now especially, is a time to put the needs of the children first. Try to cooperate with each other about when and how to switch custody - public places that worked before, may no longer be open or a viable place to meet. If you can't agree on where to meet to exchange your child(ten), call me and I will help you work this through.
Children may be feeling stress around disruptions in their schedules, and also may feed off any stress they feel from you. Keep this in mind. There are lots of articles out there on how to talk with your children about novel coronavirus. I will send some more info in the next email.BFL is Here for You
Our office is open - virtually- and we are here to help you. We can do turn around with POAs and Health Care Directives quite quickly, Of course, I am here to answer all your questions.
I just heard a good video that reminded us that while we are staying home, it is a good time to gather all our passwords in one place, and let your loved ones know where that is. If you have elderly parents/relatives, you may ask them for their password list… Keep it in a safe place- but handy.
Stay safe and healthy