One thing we have been hearing from so many women in our community is how much COVID-19 is affecting the legal proceedings of their divorce. Since the second week in March, courts all over the country have been closed, and while some are now beginning to open up, there are still many restrictions on the courts right now and many people in the midst of divorce are continuing to be affected.
In April, we asked the women in our Facebook group, Worthy Women and Divorce, if their divorce/separation had been put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic or if they were still able to move forward. Since each marriage is different, each divorce is different, and the legal proceedings for each couple can go in a million different directions. Here are some of the many ways COVID-19 is affecting the legal side of divorce.
Barb S. told us that while most of her divorce settlement has been worked out and agreed upon, there is still an issue regarding the division of money that needs a hearing. Therefore, she’s held up.
Christine A. shared that she is moving forward by reviewing the final documents and having conference calls with her attorney.
Brenda F. told us that court sessions in her area are being held over Zoom.
April M. told us that she is already divorced but was waiting for a ruling from the judge about the QDRO for her ex-husband’s pension. When she received it, she was thrilled to find it was completely in her favor! Congratulations April!
Jessica P. shared her frustration with her divorce being on hold. She also shared some insight from a friend:
“My friend is an attorney, and he said because of lockdown and quarantine, he is getting flooded with calls for separation and divorce. He can fill out paperwork on his end, but he can’t file any of it in the courts. He is very worried about the backlogs when the courts do resume. He said matters like contested divorce will be pushed back in favor of more pressing family court matters, such as changing child support orders because of COVID-19 or fixing placement that was disrupted by the virus.”
It seems silly that in 2020 court cannot be held through Zoom meetings like everything else is right now. But this is more of a matter of the courts’ resources than anything else. Jessica’s friend is most probably correct: in the near future, contested divorces will take longer to be heard. For this reason, it is likely that attornies and courts alike will push couples to consider mediation and collaborative divorce to make things go faster.
We also heard from Carla L. who shared her complicated situation.
Carla’s ex recently went through a breakup with a woman he was living with and is no longer able to keep up his side of the custody agreement with nowhere for their children to stay. He agreed to let the children stay with Carla full time and she came to the realization that it would not be worth anyone’s time to start discussing child support payments. Carla is financially stable and can provide for her family without the support payments.
At the same time, Carla’s divorce from her ex has not been finalized and she has been told by her lawyer that her case won’t be heard until the fall. While she feels she and her ex could work out their settlement without a trial, her ex disagrees and insists on waiting for the court.
As Carla shared, “He thought he had it made and now he has absolutely nothing. I’m living my best life and I’ve never been happier.”
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