As a marriage falls apart, spouses begin to consider the possibility of divorce. They conduct searches online for insight from others who have gone through the process. From there, they usually search for legal representation from a skilled family law attorney. Some go so far as to schedule an initial consultation.
As with any monumental, life-changing decision, planning is paramount. While no amount of preparation can stop the unexpected events, the current worldwide pandemic seems to be on the list of obstacles.
Steps to Take during Unprecedented Times
COVID-19, aka the coronavirus, has shuttered operations for all businesses deemed non-essential. Law offices of all sizes “social distanced” by closing their doors and having their attorneys work remotely. Family law courts also altered their standard operating procedures and cut their schedules. Conducting face-to-face in-home custody evaluations have been replaced by teleconferences.
Unlike many other states, New Jersey does not have a “cooling off” period between the initial petition and the finalization of a divorce. That helps to speed up what can become a sluggish process, pandemic, or no pandemic. Perhaps the best way to move the process along involves mediation, whether in person or through Zoom or other technology while staying in the safe confines of home.
Fighting it out in a court is an option if all other avenues have been exhausted. However, with reduced dockets, finalization could take many months, if not an entire year.
In addition to saving time, resolving disputes short of litigation also saves money. Contentious divorces where spouses are disputing everything from custody to property division can become expensive. In addition, children are often caught in the middle between warring parents. A worldwide crisis where stress levels are already skyrocketing will only make matters worse.
Just as one day, the current pandemic will end, so will the divorce process. A pandemic should not prevent spouses from starting a new chapter in their respective lives. With proactive decisions and a willingness to negotiate, they can move on with a better sense of certainty during uncertain times.