In the fourth installment of Cordell & Cordell’s ongoing webinar series on divorce during COVID-19, the firm’s divorce attorneys discussed the five biggest mistakes to avoid when going through divorce during the pandemic.
Cordell & Cordell CEO/Managing Partner Scott Trout spoke with a panel of six Cordell & Cordell divorce attorneys who provided tips and guidance for men and fathers during this uncertain time.
For years, Cordell & Cordell has hosted seminars and webinars based on Co-Founder and Principal Partner Joe Cordell’s book “The 10 Stupidest Mistakes Men Make During Divorce (And How to Avoid Them).” Thousands of guys have found that book to be an invaluable resource during divorce.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a unique set of circumstances that further complicates the divorce process. Now, more than ever, men and fathers need to be taking steps to ensure their rights are protected.
In addition to free weekly webinars Cordell & Cordell is hosting daily podcasts answering your questions about divorce and COVID-19. All past webinars and podcasts can be found on the Cordell & Cordell COVID-19 and Divorce Information Hub.
Moving out of the marital home
Perhaps the most common mistake men make during divorce is moving out of the marital home during divorce. This decision often comes back to haunt them in custody decisions, since they are voluntarily removing themselves from their children’s lives, and also leaves them vulnerable during the division of assets.
However, Cordell & Cordell Regional Managing Attorney Doug Anderson points out that quarantine and shelter-in-place orders have altered the dynamics of the marital home as a separation is occurring. It can now be even more detrimental for your future to leave the home.
“Coronavirus has given parents, if there’s not a current court order, this ability to deny parenting time, and if they deny parenting time and you’re losing parenting time from when you move out to whenever you get to present your case in a hearing, that could go very negatively on your side,” said Mr. Anderson, who is also a divorced father of four. “It could hurt your case substantially.”
The risk of parental alienation
Another factor many men are dealing with during the pandemic is the increased risk of parental alienation. Unfortunately, with shelter-in-place orders in effect across the United States, some parents might use that as an opportunity to limit access to the other parent.
“What we’re dealing with now with COVID-19, it’s going to lengthen the time that you’re not going to be able to see your kids,” Mr. Anderson said, “because you’re not going to be able to get into the court as quickly as we used to. But that parental alienation is just easier for someone to do, based upon what is happening.”
The problem, even under normal circumstances and especially so during a pandemic, is that parental alienation is extremely challenging to prove in court.
“Usually to prove it, you’ve got to get some kind of expert involved, which is going to increase the cost of the case, and that expert has to take time to meet with the children, meet with the parents, and it’s a very difficult process,” Mr. Anderson said.
Failure to act
Another frequent mistake men make during divorce is failing to act quickly enough when filing for divorce of filing for a modification to child support or alimony. This is especially relevant at a time when nearly 22 million people are facing unemployment due to the pandemic.
When facing a sudden loss of employment or a substantial loss of income, child support or alimony payments do not necessarily pause unless you are proactive in filing for a modification. During the pandemic, you might assume this change in employment or income is only temporary so it is not worth the effort to file for a modification, but that could be an enormously costly mistake.
“Alimony and child support go back to the date that you actually file,” said Cordell & Cordell Maryland Litigation Attorney Kumudha Kumarachandran. “So if you lost your job get in contact with an attorney and try and file for a modification of child support, so that the court is on notice.”
Cordell & Cordell is committed to providing continued support to men and fathers throughout the pandemic.
Should you have questions or concerns about an issue concerning divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, paternity, or any other family law matter, please get in touch with a divorce lawyer as soon as possible by calling 866-DADS-LAW, or by filling out this online contact form.
As an added safety and convenience measure, the firm is now offering virtual and phone consultations in all offices.