How to Keep Your Divorce Moving Forward During a Pandemic

divorce COVID-19 pandemic

There’s never an ideal time to get divorced, but if there was, a global pandemic wouldn’t be it. Although it seems like the world has come to a grinding halt in the last few weeks, you’ll be surprised to find out that your divorce doesn’t have to. (And the same goes for your child support and custody issues.) 

Yes, courthouses are closed to the public except for certain emergent matters, but the Courts are still receiving pleadings and hearing motions, just remotely.  This means there are ways to make progress, as long as you don’t need to actually go to court. Thanks to a number of alternatives and the use of technology such as video conferencing, there’s options available to you.  

Communicate with your spouse

No matter where you are in the divorce process, communication is more important now than ever. If you’re early in the process, now is a good time to agree on a strategy for how to move forward with your divorce. An approach to strongly consider is alternative dispute resolution, which is a broad term for approaches to legal problem solving that keeps parties out of courts: mediation, collaborative divorce, and arbitration. 

Keeping things out of the courts reduces the costs and emotional toll of a divorce. And any court backlog  won’t slow you down if you keep the courts out of your divorce in the first place. Right now, that’s a big win for expediency.

Video conference mediation

It can be hard to have a productive conversation with your spouse when emotions and stress are running high. That’s why mediation can be a very effective approach to moving the needle on getting your marriage settlement resolved. Mediations involve both parties working with a licensed mediator who facilitates their negotiations.  

Under typical circumstances, spouses meet in person to conduct these conversations…but as that’s not currently an option under current orders of the Office of the Governor, there are other ways to achieve the same goals. Platforms such as Zoom and Skype have made it possible for you and your spouse to conference a mediator to conduct both group and private discussions. It’s even possible for your attorneys to be in on the call. 

All professional rules of mediation still apply in these situations, but it’s good to consider these questions when looking to start the mediation process.

Start gathering your finances

Getting your finances in order before a divorce is always helpful: you are going to need bank statements, credit card statements, any investment or retirement account statements, paystubs often going back a few years. Having these documents readily available will help keep your case moving forward.  

However, with the economy in turmoil and millions of Americans unexpectedly out of jobs, this may be more challenging than before. That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible, though. If you have financialMany Certified Divorce Financial Analysts are remotely available for consultation during the pandemic and provide specialized advice on major financial questions.

E-filing and online payments

If you were just a few feet from the end zone, you may feel frustrated at not being able to get your divorce settled. However, this is perhaps the easiest part of the process to conduct in the current environment. E-filing is standard practice for divorce in New Jersey. As long as all the documents are signed – which can be done remotely and asynchronously – you can file with the courts. 

Concerned about making payments for child support or alimony? New Jersey allows for online payments so you don’t have to worry about getting off schedule. 

It’s difficult to know what to anticipate in the next few weeks, but our experienced family law attorneys are working remotely to help clients figure out their best options during this time. Contact us to set up a phone call, and please – stay healthy, safe, and wash your hands!

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