Divorce is always a taxing event, and perhaps one of the most emotional that you will ever go through in your life. Throw in a worldwide pandemic and it can seem inevitable that your stress levels are going to skyrocket, if they haven’t already. But there’s good news as well. While filing for divorce during a pandemic will not be easy, it does not have to be a nightmare
either. In fact, there are several ways to make your divorce move smoothly during a pandemic, despite the additional obstacles.
You may be wondering how filing for a divorce during a pandemic differs from divorce in “normal” times. To start, during local or statewide shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders this spring, many courthouses across the United States closed. While certain emergency matters were conducted, other matters, like run-of-the-mill divorces, were put on hold. This created a backlog of family court cases in many district courts that is going to take some time to get through, while new cases are added each day. In addition, because Idaho courthouses continue to implement social distancing measures, the number of cases that can be handled in-person is still limited.
As a result, courts are turning to technology to get cases moving. You may already be using videoconferencing for your job or your child’s school. Chances are, your Idaho divorce is going to involve virtual elements and videoconferencing as well, whether it’s with your divorce attorney or court personnel. While it may seem strange, this can be beneficial for your case. Even in normal times, the divorce process is smoother if your attorney and your former spouse’s attorney can negotiate a reasonable settlement that takes care of child support, custody, spousal support, and asset division, and simply submit it to a judge for approval. But in normal times, even an amicable divorcing couple who can agree on all of these terms have to deal with inherent delays and backlogs in the court system and take time off of work or away from caring for children to do so. Now, thanks to the newfound ability of the court system to conduct some business remotely, your attorneys can submit paperwork for your uncontested divorce and you may never have to appear in a courthouse in person to finalize things.
Apart from the benefits of remote court services, a pandemic like Covid-19 may also encourage former spouses, no matter how angry they are with each other, to be more collaborative when attempting to resolve issues related to childcare and finances. In light of everything going on in the world, your former spouse may be more receptive to your concerns and suggestions about how to handle “hybrid” model or remote schooling for your children, and you may agree to be more flexible with custody arrangements if the day to day routine will involve juggling paid work and supervision of school-aged children. Choosing to work together will almost always result in a better outcome, and that’s especially true during a pandemic, when the state of the world is changing on a daily basis.
When it comes to finances, divorcing during a pandemic may be easier if you and your former spouse can agree to terms that reflect the current reality. During the pandemic, many people have lost jobs and are having difficulty accessing the unemployment system. Others have had their hours reduced or are struggling to work from home without childcare. For divorcing parents who are going to share custody and financial support of their children, these concerns are intensified. One parent may rely on child support payments from the other to pay the bills, but what happens when the paying parent loses their job? There are ways to deal with these concerns. For example, if one parent lost their job as a result of the pandemic, and the other parent is concerned that this will reduce the child support they should receive under the Idaho Child Support Guidelines, it may be reassuring to include in the agreement that support will be re-calculated when the other parent gains new employment. In the interim, that parent may agree to pay more than the Guidelines would have them pay under their unemployed status, as a reflection of the fact that this unemployment is temporary, particularly if there are other resources to draw on.
If you are considering filing for divorce during a pandemic in Idaho, understand that it doesn’t have to be more difficult than it usually is. The best way to learn about the changes to the divorce process is to call a local family law attorney who can advise you of how it will work in your city. Call our Meridian office number at 208-900-6440 and/or Boise firm at 208-900-6313