Covid-19 Custody Update!

The Kentucky Supreme Court issued Custody and Parenting Time Orders on March 24, 2020. Click link above for court text. In summary, the order provides:

To avoid confusion and provide guidance and assistance to parties to a custody or parenting time order, the Supreme Court, under Section 116 of the Kentucky Constitution and Supreme Court Rule 1.010, hereby ORDERS as follows:
For purposes of determining a person’s right to possession of and access to a child under a court-ordered custody or parenting time schedule, the existing court order shall control. However, reasonable accommodations shall be made to account for extenuating circumstances related to the COVID-19 emergency and to give full effect to Executive Order 2020-215 and any other Executive Order intended to protect the overall public health and welfare.
Specifically, the existing court order shall be considered temporarily modified to suspend parenting time for a period of 14 days for any person who:

  1. Tests positive for COVID-19 or shares a household with someone who tests positive for COVID-19;
  2. Has been advised that he or she, or someone with whom he or she shares a household, has possibly been exposed to COVID-19; or
  3. Has, within the last 14 days, traveled to any area with a CDC Level 2 or 3 Travel Health Notice.

Any person experiencing the above-listed circumstances shall, upon discovery, immediately notify the other party(ies).
Any person whose parenting time is suspended pursuant to this order shall be granted liberal communication with the child(ren) subject to any restrictions specifically stated in the existing order(s).
Nothing in this Order prevents parties from altering a custody or parenting time schedule by agreement if allowed by their court order(s), or courts from modifying their orders on an emergency basis or otherwise.
The Supreme Court acknowledges that this is a rapidly evolving situation and respectfully asks all parties with a custody or parenting time order for patience and cooperation as we work to balance court access with public health.

if you have ongoing questions, first call your attorney. If you are in need of an attorney, please contact Michael Bouldin for consultation and representation. Contact email mwbouldin2@gmail.com or call 859-581-6453.

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Modification of Alimony

In many divorces one spouse may be obligated to pay alimony, maintenance or spousal support to the other. Alimony is usually awarded in cases when the couple has been married for a number of years and there is a disparity between the incomes of the two spouses.

Alimony may be awarded as a lump sum or a series of payments over a specified period of time.  The award may be temporary or permanent, depending on the specific circumstances in the case. For example, sometimes, temporary maintenance is needed to give the recipient spouse time to obtain the schooling and/or training needed to re-enter the workforce. Other times, ongoing spousal support is necessary in order for the recipient spouse to maintain a similar standard of living that the parties enjoyed during the marriage.

Following a divorce, time and circumstances may change that could greatly impact the financial situation of either party. When this happens, one of the ex-spouses may want to revisit the original divorce decree or settlement and seek a modification or termination of spousal support.

When does Alimony Terminate?

There are some instances when spousal support automatically comes to an end. The death of either spouse is one such event, as well as the remarriage of the recipient spouse. It is important to note that although cohabitation (on the part of the recipient spouse) may provide grounds to modify or eliminate alimony, this does not happen automatically. It must be determined by the court based on how long the couple has been cohabitating, as well as any provisions written into the divorce settlement that address this issue.

It is also important to note that lump-sum alimony cannot be terminated. A payor spouse cannot be reimbursed for alimony that he or she has already paid in the past, they can only adjust or eliminate the support payments going forward. The only possible exception to this rule would be fraud.

When can Alimony be Modified?

It is possible to modify spousal support in Kentucky, but it may not be easy. To seek a modification, there must be a “material change in circumstance” that is ongoing and has made the original alimony award unwarranted or unreasonable. The official language is that it makes the original award unconscionable under KRS 403.250. This is a difficult standard to meet, although not impossible.

There are many as life changes that may qualify under this standard, but you must also be prepared to present a strong case to the family court and effectively articulate the reasons why alimony should be modified. Some of the circumstances in which a court may approve a modification of spousal support include:

  • Loss of Job: If the payor spouse loses his or her job, this of course would make it very difficult to maintain alimony payments to the recipient spouse. If, on the other hand, the recipient spouse loses his or her job, they may ask for an increase in support. Generally this is only for loss of job through no fault. It does not include loss of job if fired for cause or if you quit.
  • Illness or Disability: If the payor spouse becomes seriously ill or disabled, this can result in a permanent inability to work, as well as high medical bills. With this type of situation, it can be strongly argued that this spouse can no longer afford to pay the same level of alimony, or in some cases, any alimony at all. And if the recipient spouse becomes seriously ill or disabled, they could argue for an increase in support. Parties should note whether disability insurance or other income is available.
  • New Obligations: New obligations could affect the ability of the payor spouse to maintain the current level of support. One common example is if this spouse has a new child with another partner who needs to be supported. Note: this is generally disfavored since the original obligation arose before the new obligation.
  • Retirement: Retirement might cause a significant and permanent change in financial circumstances. However, courts do not always see this as a qualifying modification event. As with most other situations, the success of a modification petition due to retirement depends on the specific circumstances and the strength of the arguments presented to the court. This does not fly if there is a separation agreement since this could have/should have been contemplated at the time of agreement.

Need Legal Help with Alimony Modification in Kentucky? Contact your attorney. If you need advice or representation, contact Michael Bouldin at Bouldin Law Firm by using the contact information, calling 859-581-6453 or email mike@bouldinlawfimr.com.

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Criminal Rights During Emergency Orders

Emergency Orders issued by the governor cannot and do not suspend or supercede the United States Constitution. During this COVID-19 scare, many individuals are worried about their civil rights and liberties, especially those who are charged with a crime.

The courts have also issued orders to provide the greatest leniency during this crisis. Most people facing misdemeanor and traffic charges are being released without bond or even cited and released. The courts are continuing to hold regular hearings for those who are incarcerated to (1) review bonds; (2) hold arraignments via video from the jail; and (3) hold preliminary hearings for those in jail to assure there is probable cause of felony charges are appropriate.

Additionally, criminal defendants who are incarcerated retain their right to a speedy trial guaranteed under the Sixth Amendment. A violation of the Speedy Trial Clause is cause for dismissal with prejudice of a criminal case. Unfortunately, what many defendants believe is speedy and that which has been upheld by the Courts often substantially differ. Those wishing to assert their right to speedy trial should familiarize themselves with Barker v. Wingo (1972). and the Speedy Trial Act of 1974 to determine how these may apply to a specific case.

Do we still have the right to assemble as guaranteed under the First Amendment? The current executive orders do not allow persons to assemble. This does not prohibit the right to coordinate efforts through online forum or other means. It is likely that the current emergency orders issued by the governors in Ohio and Kentucky would survive constitutional scrutiny since they are ostensibly for the greater good due to the hysteria surrounding spreading of Coronavirus and they are specific as to time, location and manner.

If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, you should contact and hire an experienced criminal defense attorney at your earliest convenience. Many times getting an attorney involved early is the best way to a good resolution. For consultation and representation, contact Michael Bouldin by calling 859-581-6453 or email mwbouldin2@gmail.com.

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Divorce, DVO and Court Filings During Coronavirus Update

As an attorney in this field for 25 years, I wanted to update the public and advise that you can still file for divorce and obtain an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) by filing a Domestic Violence (DV) Petition even during the Covid-19 scare with the courts technically closed.

The courts are remaining open for emergency issues. Those include Protective and other Emergency motions in addition to those arrested and sitting in jail. Most other court dates are being continued to later dates. You can file for an EPO by contacting the county attorney or calling the local District Court Clerk in the county you reside.

Currently, the courts are also processing those filings made online. Online filing does include filing Petition for Divorce/Dissolution in Kentucky. Most domestic attorneys have converted to electronic filing over the past 2 years and can file for divorce/dissolution during these times.

These trying times are exacerbated by financial concerns, loss of employment, unpaid bills and close proximity that quarantines mandate. Add into the mix that many staying at home increase alcohol consumption, and now we have the perfect recipe for domestic violence.

Additionally, the judges are also working during this time. They do have the ability to review all emergency motions and to make rulings. Courts have made various rulings, including restricting visitation, prohibiting travel outside of the US, and suspension of of air travel for children during this period.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, know your rights. Speak to an attorney or victim’s advocate, file for protection and/or file for divorce. The Women’s Crisis Center hotline (800-928-3335) and shelters have remained open. For more information or consultation, contact Mike@bouldinlawfirm.com or call 859-581-6453. If we’re not in, we will get your message and return your call.

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How to Handle Child Exchange During Quarantine

With an ever-changing code of conduct and various quarantines during the Covid-19 crisis have led to a number of questions to most family law attorneys.

Generally, parties should continue to follow all court Orders regarding custody, visitation and parenting time. This includes exchanges and update of information. There is currently nothing preventing parents from continuing their current custody, despite the relative lockdown of many businesses.

I, like most of my colleagues, are advising clients to continue unless there is a specific concern. For example, if someone has been exposed and the child has a history of respiratory problems, caution should be used to not expose the child. Additionally, parties should try to work together to avoid unnecessary exposure that may risk elderly or other persons living in either household. Additionally, i should not have to say this but parents do terrible things to each other and ultimately to the children: If you or your child is exposed, share the information. If your child is sick, whether with Covid-19 or any other illness, DO share that information with the other parent. The parents should jointly make the decision on whether exchange is prudent or if one household is already sick, to potentially remain in self quarantine.

While courts may be more lenient with allegations of contempt following a nationwide crisis, my belief is that Judges will not be compassionate with those parents that use this crisis as a way to alienate or prevent the other parent from exercising their parenting time.

If you have questions, you should first contact your attorney. If you do not have an attorney, you may comment below or contact Mike@bouldinlawfirm.com. You may also call 859-581-6453 (581-MIKE) to schedule consultation or discuss your specific concerns.

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Collaborative Divorce Never Closes

Collaborative divorce offers parties the ability to self direct the direction, timing and terms of their divorce without court intervention or any judge’s directives or Orders.

You can proceed at your pace, whether faster or slower than courts would direct and regardless of whether court houses are open. The only orders from the judge come after an agreement is reached and orders are to comply with your agreement.

To find out more about collaborative law in Northern Kentucky visit www.nkydivorce.com or search at www.bouldinlawfirm.com. Contact mike@bouldinlawfirm.com or call 859-581-6453 (581-MIKE) for representation or to schedule a consultation.

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