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Keeping it Together after a Natural Disaster

By Nottage and Ward on November 23, 2012

Whether you are married, separated, or divorced, experiencing a natural disaster, as the East Coast did with hurricane Sandy, can have a substantial impact on your family relationships. As experienced Illinois divorce attorneys at Nottage and Ward, we recognize that there are many different issues that could present problems for family relationships, but a natural disaster can carry more of these issues than can be handled if you are not prepared. According to an article in The Huffington Post, hurricane Katrina was followed by a 10 percent spike in the New Orleans divorce rate.

After a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, flood, or widespread fire, it is especially important to keep your relationships together. You may have lost your home, your business, and/or your possessions, which is why it is necessary to hold on to what you still have. To make sure a natural disaster does not cause irreparable damage to your marriage, or other family relationships, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Work together. Emotions may be running high after a natural disaster, especially if you are separated or divorced, but do the best you can to maintain a level of civility during your family’s post-disaster recovery efforts.
  • Get a handle on damaged assets. If a disaster damages your home, vehicles, or any other assets, it is important to assess the extent of the damage and determine what the best course of action is in terms of repairing the damage. Take pictures and document the disaster-related issues and be in touch with your insurance carrier. If you are in the middle of a divorce, your assets may need to be reappraised.
  • Get counseling, if necessary. Disasters can affect people in different ways; if you or a loved one has been traumatized by the event, crisis counseling can be a great help.
  • Address potential parenting problems. A natural disaster can disrupt child custody arrangements. While it is best to include a clause concerning emergencies or natural disasters in a child custody agreement, many parents often don’t think to include it. If you do not have such a clause, agree to do whatever is safest and then discuss any missed visitation if necessary.
  • Keep up with support payments. Natural disaster or not, you could face a lot of problems if you miss alimony or child support payments that you should be able to make. Continue according to the legally set schedule but take steps for modifications if your situation requires it.

At Nottage and Ward, our family law attorneys can help you resolve any issues related to divorce, separation, child custody and support, division of property, maintenance, and other areas. To discuss your particular situation, please contact us.

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