Navigating Divorce and Covid

Separation and divorce are stressful undertakings no matter what’s happening in the larger world around us, but what if you find yourself exploring the possibility of ending your marriage in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis? If that’s where you find yourself right now you’ve got a whole new set of issues to face on top of all the standard stressors of dissolving a marriage. Your local Henry County attorneys at Family Matters Law Group are here to assist you in navigating all the details of divorce within the rapidly changing court system and to bring you clarity during this confusing time.

So what do you need to know to make it through this?

Almost everything has changed in the judicial system. Most in-person hearings are not being held, as many courts opt for virtual court hearings in order to minimize the risks posed by Covid-19. Even virtual hearings are being heard in order of severity and emergency level. Courts are facing a backlog of cases. They won’t entertain frivolous matters or minor conflicts, reserving their limited resources to address only the most urgent of issues. It’s important to understand this and adjust your expectations accordingly. This is where the guidance of your divorce attorney can help clarify what the court system can assist you with at this time; addressing any matters that arise during your filing for separation or divorce.

Where should you start as you consider divorce and covid?

Well, the first step is to research the different options available to you. We can provide more information on each option and explore which one is right for your specific case, but these are some of the basic categories to consider.

  • Pro Se – Refers to working out an agreement between yourself and your ex, without any additional assistance or representation. In this case, you would both file all your own paperwork. This option is best suited for only the simplest situations.
  • Mediation – Employing a neutral third party to moderate your negotiations to help you reach a settlement. This is usually conducted during the course of your divorce and at some time after filing the actual petition for divorce.
  • Collaborative process – Assembling a team of different specialists to assist you in reaching an agreement with your ex. This team will include attorneys for each spouse, a financially neutral advisor, possible counselors, coaches or child specialists to represent the interests of your children.
  • Traditional Attorney to Attorney – The attorneys for each spouse work together to try to reach an agreement. During this process you and your ex will be discouraged from speaking to each other about the matters being decided.
  • Litigation – The matter of your divorce is put before a judge, who makes the final decision. This may be an option if an agreement cannot be reached by any of the other methods.

What else should you do to prepare?

Once you’ve decided upon the method you’ll use to pursue divorce and you’ve assembled your team, it’s vitally important that you gather your financial records and have a clear idea of your financial picture. If you’re still living with your spouse, this time presents a vital opportunity to look through paperwork, open your mail, and if possible, read financial mail your spouse has received after they have opened it.

It may be the best plan to keep your cards close to your chest at this time, so you can gather information before your access becomes limited by your spouse’s actions. Before even mentioning the word divorce, you can tell your spouse that you’re trying to establish an accurate picture of your joint finances. This is your opportunity to fact-gather and to take some steps to secure your own financial information and bolster your position. At this time it would also be wise to establish a relationship with a forensic accountant and a financial wealth manager to help you to access your financial fitness and to plan for the future, especially during the uncertainty of divorce and covid, and possible decrease of income from job interruption due to furlough or loss.

Please feel free to consult with us on these or any other matters related to handling divorce during Covid-19. We are facing unprecedented changes to the legal system and our entire society, but although this has created new challenges, we believe you can get through this and come out on the other side in the best position to move forward into a new chapter of your life with peace of mind, for you and your children.