Divorce is usually a last resort for married couples.  One of the unfortunate aspects of the current coronavirus pandemic is that it is putting additional pressure on relationships.  Stress about finances are one of the primary causes of divorce at any time.  Currently, there are unprecedented financial issues as many people have lost their jobs or are struggling to keep a business running.  Stay at Home orders mean that couples are together 24/7 at home interacting more than ever.  Issues in relationships that were strained before the pandemic are for many magnified at this time.  Many couples are working from home and trying to home school their children.  For people who have determined that it is time to end their marriage, it is important to know that due to the virus there are limitations on going court, but that does not mean that a divorce needs to be put on hold. 

Near Term Option – Collaborative Divorce 

If you feel like you need a way to start the divorce process, I think it is helpful to know about the Collaborative Divorce process.  Most attorneys and clients have made the switch to video conferencing and the Collaborative Divorce process is perfect for joint meetings by Zoom.  Joint meetings in the Collaborative process involve the parties, their lawyers and neutral professionals working together as a team to negotiate a settlement of the divorce case.  This interest-based negotiation is a better way to handle a divorce and often results in a more durable divorce settlement than can be achieved in court. 

It is also the case that currently the only way you can get into court is if you have an extreme emergency or a very urgent situation. I would imagine that most people would hope that they do not have to get into an extreme emergency to have their issues addressed. The Collaborative Divorce process can give people access to the justice system to move forward before things really go terribly in their home or family.

Filing for Divorce After Stay at Home Orders are Lifted

When the courts are back in business, there will be a huge backlog of cases on the court dockets. As a result, it may be many months before newly filed divorce cases will be heard by a judge.  This is another reason to consider the Collaborative Divorce process.  If you are ready to move on, you do not want to wait until late in the year or even 2021 to resolve your case.  The Collaborative Divorce process enables couples to resolve the issues related to child custody and division of assets and move on with their new post-divorce lives. 

During this pandemic we are seeing financial issues we’ve never encountered.  The Collaborative Divorce process is a pragmatic, efficient process designed to focus on the current issues that need to be resolved moving forward into the future and designed to come up with holistic, more creative solutions.  Using the team approach, you have people putting their heads together to problem solve.  Collectively, we are all going through experiences related to this pandemic that are requiring people to problem solve and find new ways of doing things like never before.  The Collaborative Divorce process is a great fit for the times we are living through.   It is a process that is intended to be transparent and result in win-win outcomes as best as possible for both parties. 

Divorce itself can be anxiety producing and this COVID-19 experience is also anxiety producing.  My prediction is that going through the experience of this pandemic will mean divorcing couples will be less inclined to opt for going to court.  Preparation for a trial, the cost for it, and actually being in court can be traumatic.  The Collaborative Divorce process is designed to be safe and respectful and as a result can reduce the anxiety and trauma that is associated with divorce.  

The impact of the Coronavirus is a tragic in so many ways.  One of those tragedies will be that there will be more people filing for divorce.  For couples in the near term and long term the Collaborative Divorce process can result in a better way to handle the divorce in a calm and civilized manner and avoid dragging it out for months waiting for a court date.