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COVID-19 & Family Law in Kansas City, Update 4

With the legal system in upheaval due to the ongoing pandemic, people should be more careful because of various scams. If someone wants you to sign a paper relieving them of paying child support, it is important for people to read what they sign, and no one has to sign everything right away.

When it comes to emergency planning for families, you should have a plan in place, particularly in three areas:

  • Disability/Illness, which requires a power of attorney (POA)
  • Death, Last Will and Testament
  • Children, guardianship

Putting or having powers of attorney in place is advisable. There are medical powers of attorney and powers of attorney for property documents, although some states combine the form.

It is important to have someone you can trust as your power of attorney (POA). A POA also helps to avoid guardianship or court involvement and provides guidance for family members in a crisis.  Guardianship forms are good to have on file in a difficult situation, such as when someone becomes ill and can no longer care for themselves or a child. States have different options for short-term guardianship — no court is necessary and in most states the form is online.

The pandemic is also heightening the anxieties that many of the immigrant families are currently already struggling with given the confusion over immigration laws.

In times of crisis, immigrant families should have a detailed emergency plan that includes:

  • Current and accurate general information (name, address, phone)
  • Copies of passports
  • Complete and accurate birth certificate information for family members
  • Marriage license
  • Divorce decrees
  • History of any arrests
  • Certified disposition of any criminal case

Deportation proceedings do not mean necessarily automatic removal, he said, adding that many who are summoned before immigration courts qualify for relief. 

If you have suffered any personal injury in the workplace during the pandemic, you should:

  • Notify the employer immediately about the injury. Both employees and employers have specific deadlines to meet. And be sure you have proof that you gave notice of the injury.
  • Seek treatment as soon as possible. Ensure the service providers (hospitals, clinics, doctors) accept the employer’s workers’ compensation coverage and keep your medical appointments.
  • Get a lawyer who handles workers’ compensation cases as soon as possible.
  • Do not quit your job. Temporary benefits will likely cease if you quit.
  • Take advantage of available resources. They include job retraining programs, food pantries and rental assistance for injured workers.

Excerpted from: “Crisis Management for Families – The Impact of COVID-19” sponsored by the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice and the ABA Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights & Responsibilities.

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