SPECIAL COVID-19 ALERT
A Message From The Family Law Practice
In follow-up to the newsletter emails you may have already received from our Firm, the Family Law Practice Group wanted to send a special message to our individual clients.

Starting with some levity (because we all need to smile!)

While we may be facing the stresses of a global pandemic, that doesn’t mean we’ve lost our sense of humor. From toilet paper shortages to social distancing to self-quarantining, people across the nation are finding ways to bring humor to a bad situation.
*pictures linked to source
Now on to the serious stuff

While our Firm handles a variety of matters, the Family Law Practice Group wanted to take this opportunity to reach out to our specific clientele to first tell you that we are here for you – this will end, normalcy will return, we collectively and you individually will get through this ordeal.
 
We understand that the current situation involving the Coronavirus (COVID-19), which is ever-evolving, anxiety-inducing, and overwhelming, may give rise to concerns about the impact the virus will have on your family, your employment, and your lives in general, regardless of whether you or someone you know becomes infected.

Below you will find some information and considerations relating to this pandemic.
With respect to family law issues, there may be questions pertaining to:

  • Whether planned and approved travel with one parent and the child(ren) may proceed;
  • Whether and how Spring Break access with the child(ren) will take place, with Maryland public schools closed;
  • How parents will share in the responsibility to arrange and pay for child care with many schools and child care facilities being closed unexpectedly and for an unprecedented length of time;
  • The impact upon access under circumstances such as:
  • One household having a confirmed case of coronavirus
  • One or more residents in either household being immuno-compromised, having special needs, or having another underlying condition that make them more vulnerable
  • One or both parents is an “essential worker” or medical professional facing an increased risk of exposure
  • How the mandated Court closure—currently in place through May 1, 2020—impact your matter?
  • Whether more consideration may and should be given to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) options such as mediation and “meetings” with counsel and parties to discuss settlement options
·         
With respect to taxes, both the IRS and the State of Maryland have extended the deadline by which taxes and tax payments must be made to July 15, 2020. The deadline for estimated tax payments for the first quarter of 2020 has also been extended to July 15, 2020.

The Maryland Health Connection now has emergency special enrollment through April 15, 2020, and there is other relief available (with hopefully more to come) to those who qualify through various local, state, and federal programs or relief efforts.

Some banks may allow customers to defer loan payments without incurring late fees, may waive overdraft fees, may suspend foreclosure actions, and other such actions to assist customers facing financial hardship due to the coronavirus outbreak. This includes some relief being offered by issuers of credit cards and mortgages as well. Contact your bank(s) and/or lender(s) to learn about assistance they may be offering during this challenging time.

Our firm is also equipped to handle certain other issues or concerns you may have related to, but not limited to, businesses, employment/labor, estate planning, probate, elder law, real estate, tax planning. Visit our website at www.darslaw.com for a comprehensive list of services offered.
Let’s take a quick break (we can all use some perspective)


We are certain you have received more than a few emails or other communications regarding COVID-19. Let’s take a moment to remember what we can and cannot control so we can concentrate on the important things and release those things which may overwhelm or irritate us.
*pictures linked to the source
Back to the serious stuff

Currently, our physical office is closed and team members are working remotely to promote social distancing. However, we remain committed to addressing the needs of our past, present, and future clients during this uncertain time. Our internal communication systems and technology enable each of us to work remotely and to communicate with our clients using a variety of mediums.  Below is a summary of the Firm’s remote service applications we have been and will continue to employ to maintain our standards for exceptional service during this unprecedented time. We will provide individual communications to clients with active matters outlining further information and instruction on the set-up of their individual accounts and use of the applications so we may continue to effectively work in a virtual environment until we are able to meet in person again.

We will continue to use the following forms of communication:
  • Email
  • Text Message
  • Phone Calls
  • Phone Conferencing
  • Voicemail
  • Fax
In addition, we will now be increasing the use of the following mediums, coordinating with our clients to select the most appropriate tools based upon the technological resources available to them. While these applications have an associated cost, some offer free versions or trials. Our preference is located at the top of each category as we have existing accounts (except the last two) and we will use these methods to communicate with our clients.

*All links will direct you when you click on the name.
Video Conferencing


Secure File Sharing


Electronic Signing


Document Scanning [1]


Text Message Export [2]


[1] These are applications we suggest to clients if they do not have a scanner for assisting with the transmittal of documents since we are unable to make physical copies in our office at this time. Also remember that faxing is still available option as well.
[2] These are applications we suggest to clients who need to export/download text messages for discovery and trial (in a format that is suitable for litigation).
Our office will be in touch with are current and prospective clients individually to provide additional details regarding set-up and instructions for use of the aforementioned applications. Also, as this is an unprecedented and evolving situation, we may change or add applications as necessary.

If you have any questions related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your family law matter, or any general or unrelated questions regarding your family law matter, please feel free to reach out to any member of our Family Law Practice Group. The Firm’s partner, Alisa G. Cummins, Esquire, is the leader of the Family Law Practice. She can be reached at 443-283-7061 or acummins@darslaw.com . If you have any other legal needs, Alisa will be more than happy to direct your matter to the appropriate member of our talented team. Although our meeting may be only be “virtual” at this time, we remain available and honored to serve you.

Our Firm will draw on our decades of experience in helping our clients navigate through their most urgent and challenging situations. In a crisis, the foremost concerns must be health and safety – of ourselves, our families, and our staff. Taking care of those who contract the virus and joining the global effort in taking sensible steps to slow the spread is of the utmost importance. Once you have addressed the critical efforts to safeguard yourself and your family, you can count on our Firm to be there for you. 

As we strive to provide you with as much information as possible, we are mindful of the bombardment of information most of us are already receiving. To that end, we have provided below a list of resources containing more detailed information regarding COVID-19, how it may impact you, and sources available to help you through this tough time including local, state, and federal assistance programs:
Maryland Department of Health

Maryland COVID-19 Resources

Maryland Health Connection
(special enrollment through 4/15/20 for eligible individuals)

CDC – Talking to Children About COVID-19

Information Regarding Unemployment Benefits & Workplace Resources

Information Regarding Taxes

Information for Businesses

Information Regarding Banks, Credit Cards, Mortgages, Loans, Etc.
(contact your bank or lender regarding specific questions related to emergency relief available)

Information Regarding Scams and Phishing

Governor Hogan’s Executive Orders
(including Orders Temporarily Prohibiting Evictions and Termination of Residential Services and Late Fee – Utilities, Etc.)

Maryland Judiciary Administrative Orders Concerning COVID-19

Newsletters from the Firm

Keep up to date by visiting our website ( www.darslaw.com )

Please stay safe any healthy. We look forward to hearing from you and to being of assistance in any way that we can.

Ending with some levity (remembering happier times – they will return!)