When you know your marriage is irretrievably broken and you wish to move forward with your life, you do not want to wait and be subject to delays for any reason. You want to sort out who gets what and parenting time schedules with your shared children, so that way you can help them adjust, and you can adjust, as well.
You may be like many divorcing spouses around the country, dealing with a family court system that has been hampered by restrictions. COVID-19 has changed the flow of the court system and has restructured many of its capabilities. Many hearings now are being virtually held through video conferencing, while others have been delayed, in anticipation for increased restrictions.
Cordell & Cordell held a virtual town hall, hosted by CEO, Executive Managing Partner Scott Trout, and featured a panel of family law attorneys from across the United States. They highlighted the changes made to the family court system and offered insight on cases can progress.
Dissecting “Weekend Divorce”
You may be like select couples, who are exploring “weekend divorce,” according to 13NewsNow. This phenomenon was made popular during the pandemic and is aimed toward divorcing couples who may be on more amicable terms. Cordell & Cordell attorneys explored the implications of this streamlined process and cautioned against the oversimplified expectations that it may incite.
“This ‘weekend divorce’, to me, seemed like it was going a little bit too far for some of the guys that we represent,” Mr. Trout said. “What it did is it puts them in a room and tells them ‘You go in on a Friday, and you’re married. You can be guaranteed on Sunday that you walk out with a divorce agreement.’”
While the timeline of weekend divorce does not mean that a divorcing spouse would end the weekend a single individual, it does imply that agreements on simplistic issues may be reached. However, one Cordell & Cordell divorce attorney cautioned against maintaining that mental timeline.
“What I don’t like clients to do is get buyer’s remorse,” she said. “You do want to have a lot of time to think about the decisions that you’re making and what’s most important to you.”
Even if it is not reached during the course of a weekend, you may explore formal or informal mediation during your divorce process, allowing your attorney to assist in reaching your goals.
“Mediation is a great tool to try and chip away contested issues,” Cordell & Cordell Maryland Ashley Ward said. “It can be a complete agreement, or what I like to call a global agreement.
“In Maryland, we don’t have ‘weekend divorces,’ but we do have grounds for the divorce, titled mutual consent. If you have a global agreement, in regards to property, custody, and all other aspects of the marriage and family, the court will give you a divorce without any wait time.”
Engaging in discovery and case strategies
If you are like most going through the divorce process during COVID-19, you may not have the luxury of being able to create amicable agreements in such short periods of time. You may have to wait for family court proceedings to help sort through existing issues, such as child custody or asset division. Even if there are court delays and restrictions, there still are ways your attorney can remain proactive in your case.
“Discovery, to me, is all about preparation and being proactive,” Ms. Ward said. “You don’t have to be in court to have discovery. That can continue despite what is happening in the court system.”
If you are facing divorce and a family court system experiencing delays and restrictions, it is vital that you remain in contact with your attorney, engaging with your case and your future. It allows you to stay active and participate in your attorney’s strategies that best suit your situation.
“Your attorney should be having discussions with you, especially if there’s going to be experts involved or anything like that,” Cordell & Cordell Litigation Attorney David Thomas said. “If you are using an accounting expert that is going to be evaluating the value of a business or tracing accounting records, those processes can sometimes take two or three months or more on the short end.”
Moving your case forward is possible, even during COVID-19. With the assistance of your attorney, you can progress in your divorce and create a new life for yourself and your children.