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Family lawyers see a rise in certain cases amid coronavirus

Posted at 6:41 PM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 18:41:58-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Lawyers all over say they are seeing a surge in divorces. In Western New York, lawyers 7 Eyewitness News spoke with said they are also seeing another issue.

Catharine Venzon, the primary attorney at Venzon Law Firm in Buffalo, said the biggest call increase she's seen is regarding child visitation rules.

"It's a very difficult time for families that don't get along under the best of circumstances, now you lock them all together on the PAUSE that we have, and it's causing a lot of problems," she said.

Christopher Mattingly, a managing partner at Mattingly & Cavagnaro, has practiced family law for nearly three decades. He said he's also seen a rise in child visitation issues. Clients wonder if their orders still apply, presenting him with scenarios like this.

“They’re wondering If their ex-spouse has been possibly exposed to the virus or is working in a hospital, if they still have to exchange the children," he said. "And basically we say, you know, use common sense.”

He said legally, the same visitation rules apply.

As for divorce, he said being confined can exacerbate an already tough relationship. He expects their to be a surge in divorce filings closer to the end of the quarantine period.

Both lawyers expect there to be a backup in the courts once they re-open.

Emily Shields, a licensed mental health counselor, said she has also seen an uptick in couples reaching out for help. She said communication is more important now than ever.

“It’s important to try and listen, provide positive feedback and avoid some of the pitfalls like criticizing, and contempt, and defensiveness," she said.