Divorces are stressful, major life events. For many people, the coronavirus adds to pre-existing financial and emotional strains. Some couples may find that the shelter-in-place orders and increased time at home are causing a more rapid breakdown of a marriage that was already struggling.
If you are looking to initiate a divorce during COVID times, there are new questions to consider regarding the restriction and closure of many public offices. The virus may impact your ability to negotiate or litigate the terms of your separation, making it all the more necessary to seek help from an experienced New Jersey divorce lawyer. While the process might differ, it is still possible to end an unhappy marriage during a pandemic.
Thanks to modern technology, the limits on in-person court proceedings do not mean that judges cannot hold hearings or conferences. In New Jersey, it is possible to have a remote video hearing for a judge to make decisions related to a divorce case. It is also possible to submit documents electronically or through contact-free drop boxes.
Currently, there is a preference for avoiding in-person meetings whenever possible. While the process might look different, the courts will still be able to accomplish most of the things that they did before the pandemic.
However, the process could take longer than normal because of the differences in conducting business. For those wondering about their ability to initiate or complete a marriage dissolution during the pandemic, speaking to an experienced New Jersey divorce attorney is a good way to gain a better sense of how the virus might impact their case.
Asset division is one of the main things that the court must figure out in a divorce. Couples are not required to split their assets 50/50, but they must divide them in an equitable way. To determine the equitable distribution of property, everyone must understand the value of the property.
Assessing the true value of assets might be more challenging now because of the tumultuous economic circumstances surrounding the pandemic. It is still possible to negotiate these terms, but valuations could be different than they would have been a year ago.
Whether the economy will seriously impact the value of a person’s home or other significant assets will vary case by case. Divorcing parties can share these concerns about asset division during COVID with their attorneys.
Divorce might mean that one party will have to pay spousal or child support to the other person. The support payment amounts depend on each person’s income, as well as other considerations such as the needs of the children and the length of the marriage.
Sadly, COVID-19 has left many Americans without jobs or with reduced income. Large numbers of people have left the workforce or cut their hours to care for their children who are remote learning. Other people, such as restaurant workers, may have limited work opportunities because of COVID restrictions.
Lower income can greatly impact support obligations on both ends. In some cases, those paying child support may be paying less than they would otherwise. In other situations, the recipient may need more financial support during the pandemic. The economic strain of the pandemic could create unique complications that the divorce attorneys and court will have to resolve.
Speaking to an attorney is an important step when initiating a divorce, especially during the pandemic. COVID will likely mean that attorney and client conversations will have to occur through phone or video conferences. Clients should remember that their phone calls with their lawyer are confidential, and that no one else in the home should be listening to their conversations to preserve attorney-client privilege.
If you are considering a divorce during the COVID-19 pandemic, call a New Jersey family lawyer to discuss your case. While the pandemic might change aspects of the process, you still can move forward.