The COVID-19 pandemic has affected people across the world, leading to business closures, remote work, homeschooling, and event cancellations. The coronavirus has thrown a wrench in everyone’s plans, and if you were in the process of getting a divorce, you may especially be feeling this. So how is COVID-19 affecting divorce proceedings? We’re providing everything you need to know about divorce during COVID-19, including information on hearings, mediation, and what to do if you’re quarantined with your spouse.
Essential Hearings Are Still Happening
While Courts are still conducting hearings, they are differentiating between Essential and Nonessential hearings. The Courts determine which hearings are considered Essential, and these generally must involve an emergency situation. An Essential hearing can take place in person as long as social distancing rules are followed and fewer than 10 people are present. The Courts are also allowing video hearings during this time. Video conferencing platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams are being utilized for virtual hearings in Nonessential cases.
Mediation Is Being Conducted Virtually
Most family law cases can, and should, be settled outside of Court through the mediation process. Mediation involves working with a professional to dissolve the marriage fairly and amicably. Virtual mediation through video conferencing platforms is a convenient alternative to meeting in person during this time, and Burrows Law Group has conducted multiple of these virtual mediations with great success.
It’s Important to Work Together and Avoid Conflict in Quarantine
It’s likely that quarantining with your spouse was not part of your plan when you decided to begin the divorce process. If you are living in the same home as your spouse, it’s vital that you try to maintain the peace. Courts are typically not removing spouses from residences at this time unless family violence is present. If that is the case, please contact local law enforcement immediately.
If violence is not present, then you are likely stuck with your spouse until stay-at-home orders have passed. In this instance, the last thing you want to do is make things worse by fighting. Try to avoid conflict as much as possible. Commit to not “having the last word” during arguments. Walk away and cool down. You may want to make your point, but staying calm is in your best interest in the long-run. Furthermore, do not intentionally push your spouse’s buttons, and avoid consuming alcohol if that tends to contribute to conflict.
Your Behavior Now Could Affect Child Custody
If you are a parent, avoiding conflict is even more important. Good co-parenting means doing what’s in the best interest of the child. Since the Courts are not as easily accessible at this point, working together as much as possible will limit conflict and costly litigation. If your spouse is seeking full custody, you may find that this time together will prove to them that sharing custody may actually be workable after COVID-19. On the other hand, allowing the frustration of quarantine to affect your behavior negatively could provide your spouse with ammunition to use against you in a child custody case. Thus, cooperating and being courteous could have a huge long-term impact on your children. If you are struggling to come to an agreement with your spouse, contact us to discuss your options regarding child custody.
It’s a Good Time to Consider Reconciliation
Being forced to quarantine with your spouse during a divorce may sound like a nightmare, but it can actually be the perfect opportunity to work on your marriage. Stepping away from day-to-day responsibilities and distractions gives you time to talk through your issues and try to find common ground. Many counselors are offering video sessions during this time to help facilitate these kinds of conversations. If your problems tend to revolve around finances, you could also consider working with an attorney on a postnuptial agreement to address your concerns.
Every Divorce Is Different
Not all circumstances are the same, and we understand that you may need to discuss the specific details of your divorce with an attorney. Burrows Law Group is more than willing to speak with you via telephone or video – in fact, we’re currently offering free video or phone consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact us today to speak with a qualified attorney about your situation.