COVID-19 Public Resources

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Resources

Read the full text of the act here.

CLA is aggregating the following third-party analyses and summaries of the CARES Act for information purposes only. We advise readers not to rely exclusively on any of the following and to conduct their own due diligence and analysis.


Disaster Legal Assistance Collaborative

Disaster Legal Assistance Collaborative is a collaborative of legal services organizations, bar associations, and others, statewide. They are providing free legal services during this pandemic.

Visit their website for legal help or sign up to volunteer here.


COVID-19’s Impact on Statewide Evictions

Thank you to the Real Property Section for providing an article about COVID-19’s Impact on Statewide Evictions.

COVID-19’s Impact on Statewide Evictions (click to expand)

By Stephanie Foster and Anna Liu

The global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is forcing the world to change its daily practices and the impact was felt almost immediately in the California landlord-tenant arena. As governments scramble to protect citizens, the state issued a moratorium on certain evictions in an effort to help residential tenants remain in their homes and small commercial businesses stay afloat.

On March 4, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency in California due to the threat posed by COVID-19, which currently remains in effect through May 31, 2020. Following the state of emergency declaration, Governor Newsom issued an executive order allowing local governments broad discretion to enact substantive limitations on residential and commercial evictions for a tenant’s failure to pay rent when:

  1. the non-payment of rent arises out of a substantial decrease in household or business income or substantial out-of-pocket medical expenses, and
  2. the decrease in income was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, or by any local, state, or federal government response to COVID-19, and
  3. the decrease in income is documented.

As a result, a number of local jurisdictions, including Los Angeles and San Francisco have already adopted their own COVID-19 specific eviction restrictions.

For example, San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced a moratorium on residential evictions related to financial impacts caused by COVID-19. It requires tenants to (1) give notice of their inability to pay rent due to COVID-19 related financial hardship within 30 days of missing a rent payment, and (2) to provide documentation within seven days of giving notice.  The San Francisco policy allows a tenant up to six months to pay back the missed rent. 

The City of Los Angeles also barred landlords from evicting residential tenants during the emergency period if the tenant is able to show an inability to pay rent due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including loss of income due to a COVID-19 related workplace closure, child care expenditures due to school closures, health care expenses related to being ill with COVID-19 or caring for a member of the tenant’s household who is ill with COVID-19, or reasonable expenditures that stem from government-ordered emergency measures. Tenants will have up to six months following the expiration of the local emergency period to repay any back due rent.

The Sacramento City Council has adopted an emergency ordinance to establish a temporary moratorium on evicting tenants unable to pay rent due to a loss of income caused by COVID-19, that will end once the Governor’s Executive Order terminates on May 31, 2020, unless it is extended. Sacramento’s ordinance does not prevent a landlord from evicting a tenant who failed to pay rent when due before the ordinance was adopted or for any other lease violation.

San Diego has requested that the San Diego Superior Court halt all pending eviction cases and new eviction filings and that the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department cease enforcing eviction orders during the state of emergency.

On March 16, 2020, the Governor signed Executive Order N-28-20, which in part finds that it is necessary to promote stability among commercial tenancies to mitigate the economic pressures of the emergency. California’s order also presses lenders to hold off on foreclosures, which could relieve landlords who unable to pay mortgages as a result of missed rent.

The City and County of San Francisco then quickly followed its residential eviction moratorium with a temporary moratorium preventing small to medium-sized business from being evicted due to a loss of income related to lost revenue or other economic impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This order applies to commercial tenants registered to do business in San Francisco making less than $25 million a year, based on the 2019 tax year.

If a covered commercial tenant fails to pay rent that was due on or after March 17, 2020, the landlord may not recover possession of the unit due to the missed payment until the landlord first provides written notice to the tenant of the violation and provides an opportunity of at least one month to cure.

At both the state and local level, the moratoriums do not relieve tenants of their obligation to pay rent.  Rather, they suspend a landlord’s right to move forward with evicting a tenant who has accurately documented their COVID-19 caused financial hardship while the Order is in place.

As much as COVID-19 is a novel disease, it is a novel experience for landlords, tenants, attorneys, and governments as the laws are rapidly changing and evolving daily. 


Resources for Businesses and Individuals

Below is a list of resources to help businesses and individuals respond to the challenges posed by COVID-19. Every situation is unique, so to find the right resources, conduct some research; local resources may be more practical or an industry specific response might be most appropriate.

Research local counties, cities and institutional business partners, like banks and professional associations, for further guidance and useful tools.

Resources listed below are provided for informational purposes only. The California Lawyers Association does not endorse any organizations or programs.  

Thank you to the Family Law Section for providing the following article, Co-Parenting in a Pandemic.

Co-Parenting in a Pandemic

By:  Stephen D. Hamilton, CFLS

The best security blanket a child can have is parents who respect each other.

Jane Blaustone

Introduction

Within an hour of the statewide “shelter in place” order being issued, I received my first call from a client regarding whether their parenting plan should continue in light of the unprecedented changes in our daily lives caused by the Covid-19 virus.  It was not the last call I received. 

The questions asked of me by clients have included:

  • Does the shelter in place order apply to custody exchanges?
  • Who has the children when school is no longer in session?
  • My ex works in a hospital, shouldn’t our children stay with me?
  • What happens when one parent lives with family members who are in the high-risk category?
  • How do we carry out custody exchanges?
  • What happens if a parent is placed in quarantine due to Covid-19 exposure?

The inquiries I received reflect the unique challenges we are facing due to the current pandemic.  Unfortunately, there is no specific guidance either in the California statutes or case history to guide us through this time.  This article addresses issues parents with California custody orders will face during the pandemic, as well as what custody orders may be issued after the restrictions imposed by the current pandemic are lifted.

DISCUSSION

LEGAL ISSUES

Quite simply, there are no California laws which address custody issues during a pandemic.  I found 2 reported (published) family law cases which referenced the swine flu, but neither case addressed how the swine flu impacted parenting orders.   I was unable to find any reported family law cases which referenced “pandemic” or any of the specific pandemics which have occurred in the last 100 years (1918 Spanish flu, Ebola, H3N2 influenza of 1957-1958 and 1968 and MERS). 

Some California courts have been unofficially following an emergency order issued by the State of Texas which provides:

  • For purposes of determining custody schedules, the originally published school schedule controls.
  • Custody shall not be affected by the school’s closure that arises from an epidemic or pandemic, including what is commonly referred to as the COVID- 19 pandemic.
  • If the parties are in agreement, they can modify their schedules and orders.

The Texas emergency order sets forth a reasonable plan to deal with the challenges imposed on parenting plans as a result of the Covid-19 virus.  Other courts have also issued statements that court orders for visitation take precedence and are enforceable notwithstanding the emergency orders which have been issued to address spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Family Code Section 3020(a) declares “it is the public policy of this state to ensure that the health, safety, and welfare of children shall be the court’s primary concern in determining the best interests of children when making any orders regarding the physical or legal custody or visitation of children.”   Section 3020(b) states it is “the public policy of this state to ensure that children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage, or ended their relationship, and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing in order to effect this policy, except when the contact would not be in the best interests of the child…”.   Under Family Code Section 3020(c), when the public policy of ensuring the health of children conflicts with the public policy of ensuring frequent and continuing contact, the health of the children and “safety of all family members” is to prevail.

What do these statutes mean relevant to the Covid-19 pandemic?  A reasonable interpretation by courts would be:

  1. Suspend all custody and visitation orders for children to be with a parent who has been diagnosed with Covid-19. However, all custodial time lost as a result should be promptly made up.  In other words, the custodial time is not lost, it is rescheduled.
  2. If a parent is placed in quarantine due to exposure to Covid-19, the children should remain with the parent with whom they were residing at the time the parent was exposed to the Covid-19 virus.  If the children were living with the exposed parent, they should also be under quarantine.  If the children were living with the non-exposed parent, they should remain with that parent until the exposed parent is released from quarantine.  Again, any lost custodial time should be made up when the exposed parent is released from quarantine. 
  3. Custodial time that necessitates out-of-state travel or travel by commercial transportation (airplanes, trains, busses) should be rescheduled until it is safe to travel.
  4. A parent’s custodial time should not be canceled or limited due to their employment, absent an indication there has been exposure or infection.  This is particularly true for parents able to work at home.

So how parents resolve disputes when one of the situations described above requires a change in the custodial schedule?  Unfortunately, there is no easy remedy.

THE COURTS

Each individual superior court is making a county-by-county determination as to court closures, the ability to file paperwork and when their court will re-open.   Given the projected curves for Covid-19 as of April 1, 2020, it is likely many courts will remain closed through the end of May. 

Courts are still processing requests for domestic violence restraining orders and, in some cases, emergency (ex parte) requests.  However. several courts have issued warnings about filing frivolous or unnecessary requests when there is not a true emergency.

Hearings scheduled during the closure will be rescheduled.  How your court will notify you of the new hearing date differs in each county.   Your best resource is your local court web site.  Searching for “superior court <your county>” will usually lead you to your court’s web site.  If it does not, the following link has a listing of the web sites for all California superior courts:  https://www.courts.ca.gov/find-my-court.htm?query=browse_courts 

Once courts re-open, custody issues will have a high priority for resolution based on California Family Code Section 3032.  In counties where judges are assigned to specific departments (e.g. family law), only domestic violence cases or cases entitled to priority due to the age or health of the parties will take precedence over custody hearings.  However, it is anticipated there will be a significant number of domestic violence matters requiring hearings after courts reopen.  The number of domestic violence calls made by law enforcement officers have increased since the shelter-in-place orders were issued.   This increase in domestic violence is expected to continue as people remain in quarantine with abusive partners, and as the financial pressures caused by the impact of the Covid-19 virus worsen.

Once your custodial matter is heard, how you behaved during the Covid-19 pandemic will matter.   In cases where domestic violence has occurred, California Family Code Section 3044 will create a presumption the abused party should have sole legal and physical custody of the parties’ children.

In cases not involving domestic violence, a party’s interference with custodial orders will be scrutinized.  It may even lead to a change in primary custody.

Under California Family Code Section 3040, when a court makes custody orders, they are to consider the best interests of the children.   “In making an order granting custody to either parent, the court shall consider, among other factors, which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent and continuing contact with the noncustodial parent, consistent with Sections 3011 and 3020.”  In other words, if one parent did not follow custody orders or interfered with the other parent’s “frequent and continuing contact” with the children, a change of custody may be ordered.  In those cases in which permanent custody orders have already been issued, a parent seeking to modify the custodial orders may have to establish a “change of circumstances.”  However, a court could easily determine a parent’s failure to follow custody orders during a pandemic would satisfy the “change of circumstances” requirement.

An OPPORTUNITY TO CO-PARENT

With the great challenges which all parents are facing due to the Covid-19 pandemic comes great opportunity:  the opportunity to improve your co-parenting with the other parent.  This means using common sense to resolve practical issues, such as:

  • How to address one parent’s Covid-19 exposure or infection;
  • How to deal with long distance visitation travel;
  • How to ensure your children have some form of frequent and continuing contact with the other parent; and,
  • What protective measures you should implement between households.

Communication will be key in resolving these issues.  In almost every case in which I received a Covid-19 question the parents were using Our Family Wizard.   I was not surprised because I consistently recommend my clients in high-conflict custody cases agree to an order for parenting communication to occur via Our Family Wizard.  Keeping a record of your communications will be key, particularly when one (or both) parents need to seek orders from the Court in the future based on the actions of the other parent during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Communication will also be important between parents so that children receive consistent and appropriate direction on how to modify behaviors during a pandemic, while avoiding creating fear or anxiety for your children.  For example, both parents discussing and implementing consistent house rules regarding frequent handwashing, keeping your hands away from your face and maintaining social distancing.   If you are able to establish these rules in both homes, and both parents are uniform in how they convey these rules to the children, the children will be more likely to follow the rules and, as a result, reduce the children’s risk of exposure or infection.  Contrast that result to what will occur if one parent is minimizing or discouraging the children from following current health recommendations.  Not only will you be undermining the other parent, you will be exposing your children to greater risk of infection.

Communication will also be important when parents have school-age children.  As all schools are closed, and likely to remain closed until the Fall, parent communication during the mandated home education of school-age children will be critical.   Moreover, there is an argument it should be mandatory.  Regardless of what custody orders have been made in your case, California Family Code Section 3025 provides that “access to records and information pertaining to a minor child, including, but not limited to, medical, dental, and school records, shall not be denied to a parent because that parent is not the child’s custodial parent.”  It is therefore reasonable to conclude records pertaining to children’s current home schooling should be shared between parents.

What can parents do when they have reached temporary agreements to accommodate the changes required by the Covid-19 pandemic?  Write up written agreements, with counsel if you are represented, that refer to any agreements as temporary and “without prejudice.”  The latter term means that in the future, the Court will not consider any changes agreed to on a temporary basis as a reason to change the permanent custody orders.   For example, if mother is a physician working in a hospital where she is regularly exposed to Covid-19 patients the parties may decide it is best for the children to remain in father’s custody in the short-term.   If that agreement is made “without prejudice,” father would not be able to use that agreement as a basis for seeking permanent full custody of the children after the current health crisis passes.

Use of technology to promote frequent and continuing contact with children during the Covid-19 pandemic is also critical.  Where circumstances require a deviation from the normal custodial orders (for example when the parents live in different states and it is not practical to carry out custody exchanges due to the lack of flights), encouraging and assisting your child in having “virtual” parenting time will be important.  Programs and applications like FaceTime, Skype or video conferencing software will lessen the harm to your children if they cannot be in the physical custody of the other parent.

CONCLUSION

We are experiencing an unprecedented disruption of our normal lives and routines due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  How you respond to this disruption may impact the court’s future decisions regarding custody and visitation of your children.  By working collaboratively with the other parent and making decisions that focus on the health and safety of your children, you will demonstrate to the court you are a parent who is committed to promoting the best interests of your children.  By failing to work with the other parent, or attempting to alter the custodial schedule without a legitimate reason to do so, you will provide the court with evidence you are a parent who does not promote the relationship between your children and the other parent.  Such evidence could result in significant changes to the custodial schedule, or even a change of custody, when the Covid-19 pandemic is over.

Stephen D. Hamilton has been an attorney for 25 years, with a practice in San Luis Obispo County devoted almost exclusively to family law for 23 years.  He is Certified Specialist in Family Law and a Fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. He is also a past Chair of the Family Law Executive Committee of the California Lawyers Association (FLEXCOM) and past Chair of the San Luis Obispo County Family Law Section.  Stephen is a published author in the field of family law and a Multi-Activity Provider authorized by the State of California to provide continuing legal education.

Thank you to Business Law Section for contributing to the resources provided below.

Employment Law Update –  Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The Act, among other benefits, provides many employees in the US with up to two weeks of paid sick leave and up to 12 weeks of protected and partially paid Family and Medical Leave Act leave for absences from work to:

  • recover from or isolate due to coronavirus;
  • quarantine or isolate due to a federal, state or local Order related to COVID-19;  
  • similar reasons as determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services;
  • care for family members who are recovering from or isolating due to coronavirus; or
  • care for children under 18 due to school or day care closures. 

More details from Delfino Madden here

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

The IRS just launched a webpage for eligible stimulus payment recipients who do not otherwise have a return filing obligation to enter bank account information online: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here

https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus

IRS is offering coronavirus tax relief. Check for frequent updates.
El IRS ofrece alivio tributario por el coronavirus. Verifique law antualizaciones frecuentes.
IRS image "Economic Impact Payments"
Click image to view entire infographic

Economic Impact Payments graphic
Click image to view entire infographic
Economic Impact Payments: What You Need to Know

$1,200* FOR INDIVIDUALS

Eligible individuals with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 will automatically receive the full $1,200 payment.

$2,400* FOR MARRIED COUPLES

Eligible married couples filing a joint return with adjusted gross income up to $150,000 will automatically receive the full $2,400 payment.

$500* PER CHILD

Parents also get $500 for each eligible child under 17.

AUTOMATIC PAYMENTS

Most taxpayers don’t need to take any extra steps to receive a payment. The IRS will use information from a taxpayer’s 2019 tax return if they’ve filed it, or their 2018 tax return, if they haven’t.

*Income and other limits apply

The vast majority of people do not need to take any action. The IRS will calculate and automatically send the economic impact payments to those eligible.

Anyone with a tax filing obligation who has not yet filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019 should file as soon as they can to receive an economic impact payment.

IF YOU STILL NEED TO FILE, USE:

  • e-File – Taxpayers and tax professionals are encouraged to file electronically.
  • Free File – Use IRS Free File if your adjusted gross income is $69,000 or less.
  • Direct Deposit* – Combining direct deposit with electronic filing is the fastest way to receive your refund.

*The economic impact payment will be deposited directly into the same bank account reflected on the return filed.

Department of Labor

Coronavirus Resources
https://www.dol.gov/coronavirus

Center for Disease Control (CDC)
US Chamber of Commerce
CA Chamber of Commerce
CA Secretary of State

The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development has compiled helpful information for employers, employees and all Californians as it relates to the cornonavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
https://business.ca.gov/coronavirus-2019/

CA Employment Development Department

Partial Unemployment Insurance Claims to Keep Employees
https://www.edd.ca.gov/unemployment/Partial_Claims.htm

Work Sharing Program
https://www.edd.ca.gov/Unemployment/Work_Sharing_Program.htm

Local Government and Local Agencies

San Francisco

Assistance & Guidance for Businesses and Workers Impacted by COVID-19
https://oewd.org/assistance-guidance-businesses-and-workers-impacted-covid-19

Deferral of Business Taxes and License Fees
https://sftreasurer.org/covid19

Covid-19 Small Business Resiliency Fund
https://oewd.org/covid-19-small-business-resiliency-fund

LSE Application for Commercial LEase Assistance (English)
https://lccr.com/get-help/economic-justice-legal-services-for-entrepreneurs-lse/lse-application-english/

SF Small Business Revolving Loan Fund
http://www.mainstreetlaunch.org/san-francisco-launch/

San Francisco Paid Sick Leave & The Coronavirus
https://sfgov.org/olse/san-francisco-paid-sick-leave-coronavirus

Los Angeles County

Coronavirus Response Page at LAEDC
https://laedc.org/coronavirus/

Help for Businesses Affected by COVID-19 by LA SBDC
https://smallbizla.org/covid19/

Monterey County

Banking Institutions

CitiBank

Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let us know if we can help.
https://online.citi.com/US/JRS/pands/detail.do?ID=covid19

Northwestern Mutual

Industry-Specific Guidance

American Dental Association
National Restaurant Association

Coronavirus Information and Resources
https://restaurant.org/Covid19

National Retail Federation
Analysis of CARES Act for Non-Profit Organizations

On March 27, President Trump signed into law a $2.2 trillion stimulus plan—the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)—in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The CARES Act, previously passed by the Senate in a 96-0 vote, is a mix of direct cash payments to many Americans, financial support for small businesses and targeted sectors of the economy, and more resources for frontline medical support.

The legislation includes a number of provisions of relevance to non-profit organizations, including: (1) expanded eligibility for non-profits to apply for Small Business Administration (SBA) loans; (2) opportunities for larger non-profits to apply for relief under a new program at the Department of Treasury; (3) expanded unemployment benefits to employees who lose their jobs due to COVID-19; and (4) tax incentives for employers to retain employees during the pandemic. This analysis provides an in-depth summary of the provisions of interest to non-profits, as well as several considerations for your organization in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more

Mental Health Resources

American Psychological Association
California Psychological Association

Coronavirus Resources
https://www.cpapsych.org/page/COVID-19

Coronavirus anxiety (Covid-19)

On a Lighter Note

It can’t all be doom and gloom. Here are some resources for you and your family to make the most out of the situation. 

Contact us or your local bar association if you need the assistance of an attorney.


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