UPDATED – October 16, 2020 @ 3:00pm
A Message from CDSOC: We Never Closed!
As everyone is aware, COVID-19 caused the closure of the Family courts throughout the state, meaning that couples and families in contested disputes that required court intervention could not get their matters resolved. Today, many court hearings are virtual unless you are specifically notified, by the court, to attend in person. This is still a hardship for many people who could not continue to pay support because of a loss of income, could not get temporary parenting plans ordered, and had to accommodate their children’s distance learning programs for school.
Because of the out-of-court nature of the Collaborative Process, Collaborative Divorce Professionals were able to remain open and fully operational. While the courts were closed, our professionals continued helping families and couples resolve their matters through virtual meetings and preparation of vital documents needed for binding and enforceable agreements (even without a judge’s signature). These are still difficult times for the couples and families we help. Our professionals have the training and resources to work outside of the “legal-box”; we have helped many families get creative to customize their parenting plans, financial agreements, and even their divorce process itself to meet the demands of the world today. All of this thanks to the continued virtual education, training, and resources made available to the professional members of CDSOC. We don’t know what the future holds; but we do know that our professionals are ready and have the resources to keep your family law matter moving, come what may.
How does COVID-19 affect my case?
Couples need to get creative.
- Working parents in a contested divorce have to accommodate their work schedules, their children’s distance learning programs, and also virtual and/or in person court hearings.
- Parents in disputes related to exposure of the children to COVID-19 by the other parent are struggling to get the court orders they want because judges don’t have any precedent upon which to rely to make a decisions on, say, whether or not a job in a hospital creates an unreasonable danger of exposure to the child or whether or not one parent’s less strict socializing habits warrant a change in the parenting plan.
- In the Collaborative Process, parents work together to create their own plans and have more control over the outcome. They do not have to rely on a judge’s opinion.
- Judges often look at the last 12 months of income from all sources and/or ability to earn if you are unemployed when setting support orders. In a COVID-19 world, this may not be realistic for many people.
- The drastic changes in employment and/or income for most people has a direct impact on financial need and ability to pay support.
- Those resolving their divorce through a Collaborative Process are getting creative with the need to balance income, on their terms, not the decision of a judge.
- If your divorce involves a business owned by you, your spouse, or both of you, some judges look at the present day value that may be artificially low due to COVID-19. This can be financially harmful to the spouse who is bought out of the business and can be a financial windfall or a liability to the spouse who keeps the business after the divorce.
- In the Collaborative Process, we are seeing couples get creative to balance the need to get the business through the financial hardships of COVID and also share the benefits and risks in a way that makes sense for their personal and family goals.
For those resolving through a collaborative process, we all need to think outside that legal box and get creative to find solutions that allow us all to get through these trying times. With most of our professionals now providing virtual services, you no longer have to leave work early for a meeting with your financial, family, or legal professional. Electronic signatures and more efficient online programs make managing necessary documents easier for many. And, if you prefer to have some distance from your soon-to-be former spouse or partner, virtual meetings have created a more comfortable environment, even allowing for partners to be in separate rooms. There are silver linings here and we are all adjusting to making things better, more efficient, and more customized to you and your family. We hope you’ll take advantage of these opportunities and carve your path for a healthier divorce process.