COVID-19 has brought changes that have affected everyone’s lives in big ways and small. Those who were in the process of divorce are no exception. The virus and the subsequent shutdown measures that occurred closed courts across the country and people in the process of ending their marriage have, in many ways, had to put any progress in their divorce on hold.
In other cases, divorces were able to move forward, but the process looked much different than it would have without a pandemic raging. Just because in-person meetings in the courtroom or to discuss a divorce settlement were not an option, that does not mean people were not able to progress in their divorces.
As many people learn throughout their divorce proceedings, the majority of things are accomplished outside of the courtroom anyway. Many divorcing spouses never even make it into court. Ideally, they can come to terms regarding their settlement with limited court interference.
Clients going through a divorce and their attorneys sort through documents, discuss goals, and come up with proposals. For those who have not made it this far in the process, the pandemic is the perfect time to deal with these initial issues. Fill out the paperwork you need to take care of and make sure the information about your income, expenses, assets, and debts are all complete and ready to reveal in discovery. This is also a good time to contact your bank, your lenders, and more to request documentation you need from them. Many companies are still working and can send you what you need. In some cases, the documents and information you need can be found online.
The key is using this time wisely to make sure everything you can complete is completed and ready to go when things begin to re-open. The easier the information is to access the faster things will move once the courts get going again.
But what if you were further along in the process and already through with this phase?
If you have passed the financial disclosure phase, you can move onto discovery with the assistance of your attorney. You should discuss the questions you have or whether or not there are any gaps in the information provided to you from your spouse’s financial disclosure. Is additional information needed before moving onto the next step?
If this phase is complete and there is nothing left to do except being talking about a settlement, things might grind to a halt because of the pandemic. You can still discuss your goals with your attorney and determine if anything has changed since the last meeting.
In some cases, negotiating the divorce settlement can be done virtually. If you and your spouse and each of your attorneys agree to use virtual tools, this means you could conceivably negotiate the settlement during the pandemic. You might need to wait to file based on your jurisdiction, but all of the hard work will be behind you. You will just need to wait for the all-clear from courts in your area.
If you have questions about divorcing during the pandemic or you would like to speak to someone about how you can keep your divorce on track during the COVID-19 shutdowns, contact Bruce Kunz at 218-346-4600.
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