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A Guide to Florida Urgent Estate Planning and Time-Sharing Problems for Couples Divorcing During Coronavirus

On Behalf of | Jun 26, 2020 | Firm News

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major upheavals around the world. However, one unexpected consequence has been a spike in the number of divorce filings. Having to spend so much time in close quarters has led many couples to realize they cannot save their marriage. This, in turn, has led to a need for urgent estate planning and a need to address time-sharing problems. Read on to discover our expert legal advice on these subjects.

Urgent Reviewing of Your Estate Planning

The current coronavirus situation has led to additional urgency when it comes to estate planning. Yet, in any divorce, reviewing your estate planning is always going to be urgent. This is because it’s important to ensure your chosen heirs are still appropriate after your split. It’s also important to make sure your ex-spouse-to-be won’t inherit anything you hadn’t intended him or her to. Reviewing powers of attorney and health-care proxies is also imperative at this time. After all, nobody wants his or her estranged spouse to make key life and death decisions. He or she also wouldn’t want the ex-spouse to conduct his or her financial matters.

Changing Your Documents

When a divorce is pending, it may be impossible to change your documents. For example, changing account titles or designations of beneficiaries on retirement accounts may not be possible. The courts often prefer to maintain the current situation until the divorce is final. Therefore, it’s vital to change as many documents as possible immediately. The first document to review has to be the last will and testament. Making immediate changes will guarantee the court carries out your wishes in the event of your death.

The Current Additional Urgency to Review Your Estate Plan

While estate planning considerations during a divorce are always going to be urgent, they’re especially urgent during this pandemic. There are delayed hearings and closed courts. This means your divorce could be a lot more protracted. Since it’ll take longer to get a divorce finalized, it’s essential to make changes quickly. This is particularly the case if you have compromised health and have concerns about catching the virus.

Time-Planning Issues During the Pandemic

Divorcing couples with children have an additional consideration to keep in mind – time-sharing. With many parents unable to go to work and schools closed, the issues relating to time-sharing are prominent. Divorced parents subject to “shelter-in-place” orders may be wondering how the current situation will affect their time-sharing schedule. Others who are first responders may be wondering about their rights regarding seeing their children at the current time.

What if you’re the parent with primary parental responsibility and the other parent is suffering from the virus? Of course, there’s no requirement for you to time-share with that parent. However, there are gray areas. For example, if the other parent knows someone who is sick, that may be insufficient cause to refuse to time-share.

Florida law has no set procedure for time-sharing in a global pandemic. However, the courts have made it clear that parents should collaboratively work together for their children’s best interests.

This means making collaborative adjustments to time-sharing schedules to facilitate contact whenever possible. If a child misses any visits because of coronavirus, there should be makeup visits arranged. Did your ex-partner lose an extended vacation with his or her child because of the pandemic? Then he or she should also make up this time.

One thing to remember is it’s still possible to face contempt charges. If you deny your ex-partner his or her court-ordered time-sharing rights for no good reason, you could receive a penalty. If you refuse contact for remote infection risk, you have a high chance of the court finding you in contempt. It’s clear, then, that being safe and working with your ex-partner in making parenting plans at this time is key.

If you encounter any problems that you cannot resolve regarding estate planning or time-sharing, getting legal advice is vital. The team here at TM Law is on hand to answer your questions and help you through this challenging time.