Communicating with Simpson Legal Group, LLC during the COVID-19 Crisis
During this unprecedented time, Simpson Legal Group, LLC has remained continuously committed to providing excellent legal services. When we made the decision to reduce the risk of exposure to both our staff and clients, we were prepared with an efficient and effective Business Plan to allow us to seamlessly continue communication and legal services to both current and prospective clients.
Our Plan, which has now been implemented, has allowed our Team to continue utilization of telephone communication with our clients, but has expanded to allow our Team to transition to the additional use of video conferencing. Video conferencing was implemented to allow our Team to conduct meetings with our current/prospective clients to meet all of their legal needs. Our secure video conferencing has allowed our Team to maintain collaboration with our clients/prospective clients on all legal matters. Our Plan has, further, allowed our Team to remotely continue to seamlessly work with each and every client/prospective client so that they are not required to take their legal path alone. The implementation of the Plan has allowed our Team to remain ready, willing and able to guide our clients/prospective clients during these difficult times.
If you are interested in scheduling a consultation with our Team, please feel free to contact us. A member of our Team will assist you with getting your appointment scheduled via our secure video-conferencing communications.
For any questions or concerns regarding your legal needs, please feel free to contact us at (712) 256-9899. Thank you for considering allowing our Team to assist with your legal needs during these difficult times. We are proud to be able to convey our continued commitment to assist our clients/prospective clients, even during these unprecedented times.
March 31, 2020
CHILD CUSTODY, CARE OR VISITATION DURING COVID-19
Many people have asked questions regarding how to handle the child related provisions of their previously filed Court Order regarding custody, care and visitation during the current COVID-19 situation. On Saturday, March 28, 2020, the Iowa Supreme Court issued a Supervisory Order regarding this matter. The Iowa Supreme Court has stated that prior orders regarding custody, visitation or care schedules that are related to school/summer schedules shall be uniformly interpreted to refer to the school schedule where the child attended prior to any school closure caused by COVID-19. The Supreme Court went on to state that the schedule the child should follow, for custody, care and visitation purposes is the schedule that would be in place if school was in session and that schedule shall not be impacted or modified simply because of the school closure. The Court went on to state that a school closure caused by the COVID-19 virus does not extend or modify custody, care or visitation beyond any period designated in a prior order. The school closure, caused by COVID-19, does not amount to an extension of a spring break or the beginning of summer break. The Court stated that if a parent is currently violating a Court Order by failure to return the child to the other parent due to a misguided conception that the schedule has changed due to the school closure associated with the COVID-19 virus, the child should be immediately returned in conjunction with the prior court order.
We realize this language can be somewhat confusing, therefore, if you need assistance in understanding the Supervisory Order, or how it may pertain to you, please feel free to contact Simpson Legal Group, LLC at (712) 256-9899.
April 07, 2020
Online Mandatory Parenting Classes Offered during COVID-19
A new Supervisory Order was entered April 2, 2020, allowing the District Courts of the State of Iowa to approve attendance at online parenting courses in compliance with the Iowa laws mandating completion of a parenting course for cases involving child custody or visitation. Several District Court Chief Judges have issued Orders permitting parties to utilize online parenting classes in order to comply with the statutory requirement. These Orders ensure that your case can continue to move forward during this period of reduced court access.
To register for your online class, if you are located in the Fourth Judicial District, please go to the following website: www.swiamediationcenter.org
• Southwest Iowa Mediation Center: The Southwest Iowa Mediation Center has established a temporary alternative to in-person classes as evidenced by their online parenting class offered during COVID-19. Located on the website is a link which takes you directly to the Center for Divorce Education where there is a class entitled “Children in Between”. The online class is a 4 hour class. After completion of the class, the participant can download a certificate of completion for filing with court. The class is 100% online and is available 24/7 on computers, smartphones and tablets. Once paid for, the participant has a 30 day access period. This class is approved by the Fourth Judicial District, however, other classes may have been approved for different districts in the State of Iowa.
For any questions or concerns that may arise regarding this issue, do not hesitate to contact Simpson Legal Group, LLC at (712) 256-9899. We will assist you to find the best possible class appropriate for you.
April 23, 2020
Part 1: Covid-19, Your Divorce & Your Individual Stimulus Payment
The Federal Government has now started sending Stimulus payments to help taxpayers during these unprecedented times. How this may affect your divorce may depend on where you are currently in your divorce proceeding. Three areas that couples should be aware of are: (1) couples who are now divorced and filed individual returns, (2) couples who have completed their divorce proceeding but a ruling has not been issued by the judge; and (3) recently divorced couples.
If your divorce is final at the time of the issuance of the Stimulus payment, and you filed an individual income tax return for 2019, you should receive your own Stimulus check deposited directly into your own individual account bank account, if you had your refund direct deposited last year.
Relative to couples who have had a trial, but they are not divorced at the time of the issuance of the Stimulus payment, it may be necessary for your attorney to address this issue with opposing counsel if you and your spouse cannot agree on the division of the payment. Because the payment is based on the prior year joint tax returns, it may be necessary to consult your attorney to discuss the division of the payment and how the payment will be received from the other party.
Finally, if parties were married at the time they filed their joint tax return last year, but have now finalized their divorce proceeding, there is a change that the Stimulus payment may be deposited into an account that may no longer be a joint account but may have been awarded to one party to the divorce proceeding. Division of the payment may require parties to speak directly to their attorney to assist in the division of the payment.
Entirely different issues present themselves regarding the child related payments and we will address those payments in Part 2 of this series. If you are currently involved, or have been involved, in a family law case, it is important to get legal advice regarding this issue. For any questions or concerns related to this topic, please contact Shannon Simpson at Simpson Legal Group, LLC at (712) 256-9899.
May 01, 2020
Part 2: Covid-19, Your Divorce & Your Child’s Stimulus Payment
Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, most Americans are eligible for a one-time stimulus check (also called Economic Impact Payment) of up to $1,200, with married couples getting up to $2,400. Families will get an additional $500 per child. We previously discussed the individual payments in Part 1 of our Series. So what about the child’s portion of the stimulus payment? How does your divorce affect that payment?
The new law seems to state that the child’s stimulus payment will be paid to the parent that claimed the child as a dependent on his/her tax return last year. There are various complications with that concept, such as what if the parties filed a joint return last year and are now in the process of, or have completed, a divorce? What happens if, in the divorce proceeding, or thereafter, it was agreed that the dependency exemption would be alternated? The answer is not an easy one and may require the assistance of an attorney to answer this question The legislation seems to indicate that the children’s portion of the stimulus will be paid to the parent who claimed the child as a dependent on the last tax return, however, that may not agree with the terms of a divorce decree.
It is imperative that you discuss this matter with an attorney if you and your spouse cannot agree. If you are currently involved, or have been involved, in a family law case, it is important to get legal advice regarding this issue. For any questions or concerns related to this topic, please contact Shannon Simpson at Simpson Legal Group, LLC at (712) 256-9899.
May 08, 2020
Part 3: COVID- 19, YOUR DIVORCE & YOUR STIMULUS CHECK: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU OWE DELINQUENT CHILD SUPPORT?
The question has come up in recent weeks, “If I am behind on my child support will I get my stimulus check?” The answer is clear that, depending on the amount you owe in back child support, you may either receive a reduced stimulus check or potentially no check at all. The CARES Act, which authorized the payment of the stimulus checks, did not suspend collection of delinquent child support payments as it did with other debts like overdue student loans or back taxes. Because delinquent child support payments were not suspended, the relief check you would have received can be garnished if you owe delinquent child support. The stimulus funds will be delivered to the appropriate child support collecting agency and disbursed to the parent who is owed the child support.
Should you have any questions regarding this matter, please feel free to contact our office Simpson Legal Group, LLC at (712) 256-9899.
May 22, 2020
Impact of COVID-19 on Replevins, Foreclosures, and Garnishments in Iowa
The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected the financial health of millions of Iowans. Unfortunately, the struggling economy resulted in monumental job layoffs, terminations, and furloughs. A historical number of Iowans have filed for unemployment benefits. The collateral effect of the depressed economy is that debtors and borrowers may experience difficulty making regular loan payments on their mortgage, car, and other monthly expenses.
In order to combat this anticipated issue, Governor Reynolds issued a proclamation on April 24, 2020, that temporarily suspended certain debt collection activities in Iowa. Specifically, said proclamation pertains to the following:
- Replevin actions pursuant to Iowa Code Section 643. A replevin action is a lawsuit filed by a creditor to repossess certain collateral that secures a loan obligation after the debtor defaults on the payments. The most common example of a replevin action is when a lender repossesses a car for failure to make timely payments.
- Foreclosure actions concerning agricultural property pursuant to Iowa Code Section 654A. A foreclosure action is a lawsuit filed by a lender to foreclose a mortgage or deed of trust after the borrower has defaulted on the loan repayment terms. Please note that the April 24, 2020, proclamation only applies to agricultural real estate. Commercial and residential properties are still subject to foreclosure actions at this time.
- Garnishments and Execution of Garnishments pursuant to Iowa Code Section 642. A garnishment may occur after a creditor has obtained a judgment against a debtor. The garnishment is a formal action initiated by a judgment creditor against the judgment debtor’s wages and/or bank account in an attempt to satisfy the outstanding judgment. Please understand that anyone with an ongoing domestic support obligation such as child support may still be subject to typical garnishment actions at this time.
Based on the foregoing, any and all pending lawsuits concerning the above-described replevin, foreclosure, and garnishment matters filed with Iowa courts are currently suspended. Furthermore, creditors are prohibited from filing new lawsuits concerning the above-described matters at this time. However, this proclamation does not in any way relieve any person or entity’s liability under a promissory note, contract, or otherwise. Finally, please be advised that this temporary suspension is only in effect until May 27, 2020, at 11:59 P.M.
Whether you are a creditor or debtor, if you need legal advice about the current status of debt collection matters, please contact Simpson Legal Group at (712) 256-9899, to set up an appointment to discuss your rights and options.
August, 14, 2020
Modifying and/or Terminating Alimony during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Many individuals have questions regarding how COVID-19 affects their receipt of alimony payments, and/or their ability to pay alimony, during these unprecedented times. Questions have been raised, due to extensive loss of employment during the pandemic, as to whether alimony could be potentially increased and/or decreased during these times. The simple answer is, if your alimony is not deemed non-modifiable in your divorce documents, the alimony is potentially subject to modification. Because of the current circumstances, many people are looking for information regarding options that may be available to either increase, reduce and/or terminate alimony payments entirely. The law in Iowa is clear that there are circumstances where modification and/or termination of alimony is proper.
In the majority of cases, alimony payments are modifiable if there has been a substantial change of circumstance, which is more or less permanent or continuous, and not temporary. The person seeking to modify the alimony award must prove this change has occurred. The facts of the individual case will determine whether modification and/or termination is appropriate. In addition to an increase and/or reduction to alimony payments, alimony is also subject to potential termination entirely. The facts of each individual case will dictate whether modification and/or termination is appropriate.
The complete impact of modification and/or termination of alimony payments had not yet been seen in the Iowa courts, but it is evident that some people will need to modify/terminate alimony payments if either parties’ economic condition is impacted due to the pandemic. For more information regarding modification and/or termination of alimony payments, don’t take the legal path alone. Please feel free to contact one of our skilled family law attorneys at Simpson Legal Group, LLC [(712) 256-9899] to assist you with the process.