New Jersey was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy and if the effects are anything like what Hurricane Katrina had on New Orleans, New Jersey families will be experiencing a rough time ahead. A natural disaster such as Hurricane Sandy can indeed have a profound impact on a family in a variety of ways, including putting additional stress and strains on family members that could result in further discord in an already fragile environment. If a couple were already having difficulty or even if they were not, a natural disaster of this magnitude could be the final straw for some families as they struggle to find balance in their new reality.
This is not merely speculation as after Hurricane Katrina there was a 10 percent increase in the divorce rate as part of the storm’s aftermath. That increase has remained in the New Orleans area to this day and the added strain the storm’s toll had on a marriage was often cited as by those couples who divorced in the months and years following the storm. Families go through many changes after such dramatic events, from the loss of employment to injuries and separation which can be devastating for some families and lead to disagreements and disconnects that may not otherwise have evolved.
Some families may find such as catastrophic event actually brings them closer together as they deal with the aftermath and destruction to their homes, neighborhoods and extended families and friends. For some families who have already undergone a separation or divorce, it is important to remember to work together on assessing the damages to home, health and employment. If one parent has experienced a financial loss or loss of job due to the storm, try and be understanding when it comes to child support and other financial obligations that may be interrupted in the wake of the disaster.
It is important to remember however, if there is an existing child or spousal support agreement in place, you are still obligated to make those payments. If your situation has been severely impacted by the storm there may be cause for requesting a support modification. In certain circumstances the court will consider modifying an existing child support agreement based on the long-term effects the disaster may have on a parent’s ability to meet his or her obligations. Finding out what those possibilities may be should not be delayed as past due support payments pile up.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Dealing with Disasters & Aftermath Of Superstorm Sandy, Divorced or Not,” Bari Zell Weinberger, Nov. 12, 2012
Our Morris County, New Jersey family law practice helps families in transition with divorce, child custody and support agreements, as well as child support enforcement or modifications to existing agreements.