With the COVID-19 pandemic lingering, many courts across the United States have shut down due to quarantine and shelter-in-place orders. That has left many men in limbo who are in the middle of the divorce process and now unsure how to proceed.
In Cordell & Cordell’s April 23 webinar in the firm’s series on divorce during COVID-19, divorce attorneys tackled this topic, the role technology is now playing in divorce proceedings, how mediation might be a route worth considering during these times, and more.
As the Cordell & Cordell divorce lawyers explained, your divorce case does not need to come to a complete halt despite the pandemic.
Technology’s role in divorce during COVID-19
As communities across the country have shut down, family courts have adjusted and implemented the use of technology to keep pressing matters moving forward.
“In Illinois, we’re seeing a gradual progression to digitizing the court system and making the courtrooms available to people who can’t access the physical courtrooms,” said Cordell & Cordell Illinois Litigation Attorney Leander Gorski. “It has been a very slow process, but we’ve been starting to see more and more counties across the state open up for Zoom hearings, telephonic hearings, pretrial conferences, and things like that.”
Cordell & Cordell’s attorneys also offered another option guys could utilize during this time that could end up saving them thousands of dollars: mediation.
“When it comes to mediation, it really is an alternative for guys that are, right now, in the middle of a divorce,” said Cordell & Cordell CEO, Executive/Managing Partner Scott Trout. “They can’t get to court, unless it’s an emergency, so many of them think ‘There’s nothing I can do.’ But what we can do is some informal mediation.”
Not only can divorce mediation save you money, but it can simplify key parts of your divorce regarding property division, parenting plans, child support, and alimony.
“We highly recommend to all of our clients and anyone going through a divorce, try to resolve things amicably outside the courtroom, even when there’s not a pandemic,” Gorski said. “Now with the courtrooms being closed, now’s a great opportunity to do those things.
“You don’t need to get into a shared conference room to make that happen. There’s a lot of technology that’s available to everyone to make that happen.”
Preparation is key
Even if mediation is not a viable option for you, there are still steps you can take to help your case move more quickly. That involves some work on your end
“Things we’re looking for when we start a divorce case are financial records of the family, the assets, debts, and spending, so those looking to file can take this time to gather that information for us,” said Cordell & Cordell Litigation Partner Bridget Landry.
Know your state’s rules
If you are facing a separation from your child due to the pandemic, it is vital that you read up on your state’s laws concerning child custody during quarantine and stay-at-home orders. Many states classify travel for custody exchanges as essential travel and therefore permitted despite quarantine orders.
“What is important for fathers to know about North Carolina’s stay-at-home order, is that it specifically permits travel related to custodial exchange,” said Cordell & Cordell North Carolina Senior Lead Litigator Kara Goodman. “So if the mother of your children is telling you, ‘We’re ordered to stay at home. We can’t travel, so you don’t get to see the kids this weekend,’ that certainly is not the case.”
“I would encourage all fathers to take a look at your state’s stay-at-home, to make sure that you understand what is permitted and what is not.”
Cordell & Cordell divorce attorneys are continuing to address the most frequently asked questions they have heard about divorce during COVID-19 in weekly webinars and daily podcasts. For more information, visit the Cordell & Cordell Divorce and COVID-19 Information Hub.