As the COVID-19 pandemic has continued, courts across the country have been forced to close because of quarantine and stay-at-home orders. That has left many guys in a state of flux who are in the middle of a divorce or child custody case and are not sure how to move forward.
In Cordell & Cordell’s April 23 webinar in the firm’s series on divorce during COVID-19, divorce attorneys discussed this topic, how technology is being utilized by divorce courts, how mediation might be a viable option during this time, and more.
As the Cordell & Cordell divorce lawyers explained, your case does not need to pause completely during the pandemic.
Utilizing technology in divorce during COVID-19
With stay-at-home orders being implemented across the United States, family courts have turned to technology to keep some cases 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 divorce lawyers also suggested some guys might find it helpful to try mediation during this time.
“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.”
Divorce mediation can save you thousands of dollars and it can help simplify important aspects of your divorce regarding the division of assets, parenting plans, child support, and spousal support.
“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.”
Even if you forgo mediation, there are still important steps you can take to ensure that your case moves forward more quickly. That does involve some work on your end, though.
“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.
Do your homework
If you are facing a separation from your child as a result of the pandemic, learn what your state’s laws are regarding child custody during quarantine and shelter-in-place orders. Most states are classifying travel for custody exchanges as essential.
“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 is continuing to produce daily content addressing the most frequently asked questions about divorce during COVID-19. For more information, visit the Cordell & Cordell Divorce and COVID-19 Information Hub.