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Some using pandemic to leverage custody battles

Law offices across the state are sharing the difficulties caused by the pandemic, including increased waiting periods before seeing a judge and some using the situation to leverage custody battles in their favor.

Posted: Jul 10, 2020 2:32 PM
Updated: Jul 10, 2020 4:41 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Among the many battles the coronavirus has fueled -- family matters are not taking a back seat.

Law offices across the state are sharing the difficulties caused by the pandemic, including increased waiting periods before seeing a judge. Many cases are being moved to next year.

Custody battles are another challenge. Lewis Landerholm, a Portland-based family attorney, says some parents are using the pandemic to leverage an already tense situation.

"There were people saying 'well now that school's out of session we should be following the summertime plan not the school plan,'" he said. "So it created a huge mess for people who are trying to to figure out their work schedules, as they're trying to figure out virtual schooling for their kids. There's people trying to walk through this huge loophole which nobody foresaw."

He said this was mainly an issue in March and April when everyone was adjusting to a new way of operating. 

"Nobody could ever plan for this and there were a lot of people who just unfortunately were not being reasonable and were trying to take advantage of everything that was going on," he said. "A majority of people that we deal with, but the minority of the world. Most people dealt with it appropriately."

Landerholm said his attorneys are facing additional challenges in mediation during this time while other law firms aren't even taking new clients because there's no precedent for this kind of matter.

He said most counties are dealing with trials and hearings concerning family matters on a case by case basis which can vary wildly even with counties next to one another.

He says Oregon fell short on staying on top of things.

"The biggest challenge is not having any consistency between the courts and not really embracing technology," said Landerholm. "Other states did a much better job of jumping into ZOOM hearings,  jumping into virtual options, and we just didn't do a very good job of it."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 21488

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