The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Impact on Divorce
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on nearly every aspect of our lives — including how couples can file for divorce.
If you and your spouse are considering a divorce, you need to be aware of the many changes to both the process and the aftermath of divorce that have been caused by the pandemic. Learn how our team can help.
During the Proceedings
The actual grounds for divorce and process of filing remain the same in New York despite the pandemic, meaning you are still able to file for both uncontested and contested divorces in the state. However, you should be aware of several factors that have altered certain aspects of a divorce proceeding.
Ensuring safety is a key priority for everybody, so the state of New York has mandated social distancing protocols, as well as mask-wearing per CDC guidelines. Should you have any in-person business during your divorce process, you need to be aware of and follow these guidelines to ensure everyone involved is protected:
- Maintain six feet of distance between yourself and another person at all times.
- Wear a mask when in buildings.
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water.
- Make attendance decisions based on any underlying health conditions. If you or your spouse suffer from a pre-existing condition, consider pursuing a virtual option to protect the health of those involved.
- These protocols also pertain to caring for your children and safely sharing custody.
Because courts were shut down during the early stages of the pandemic, many cases were put on hold unless an absolute emergency. Because of this, there is still a large backlog of cases of all sorts, including divorces. If you choose to file for divorce, be aware that there may be delays in the process. To help streamline the process a bit, consider the following:
- Do your best to prepare documents in advance. Consult with an attorney to ensure that you are accurate.
- Have an attorney thoroughly examine your financial situation ahead of time in the event of potential mediation.
- Be sure to have any documents that require notarization completed quickly. New York is allowing virtual notary services through March 16, 2021.
- Prepare your technology in advance. Be near a stable internet connection or plug into your router to avoid losing WiFi.
- When on Zoom, avoid using a virtual background. Judges need to see what’s actually behind you for legal and security reasons.
- Continue to dress professionally as if you would for an in-person hearing.
- Consider using a computer or device with a larger screen rather than your mobile device. Smaller screens such as those on smartphones are easier to make errors on.
When in a hearing, you and your spouse have additional factors to consider discussing:
- If you have children, they may be home more because of virtual learning, which may impact time spent with their parents.
- If health insurance is going to change post-divorce, you may want to plan ahead to ensure coverage.
- If the job market continues to fluctuate and you are laid off, that does not exempt you from child support payments until you request a modification.
After the Divorce
The pandemic has affected how the situation looks even after a divorce is finalized. Subjects such as child support and visitation have been altered for many parents adjusting to this ‘new normal’.
Custody and Visitation
The ongoing state of the pandemic does not change your responsibility to follow your custody agreement. You should, however, maintain proper health and safety protocols. If you need to make emergency adjustments because of illness or perceived illness, speak to the co-parent and see if you can make arrangements.
Similarly, you are still responsible for making your support payments on time. However, if the pandemic causes you to lose your income unexpectedly, seek a modification to match your situation.
Attorneys Serving all Five Boroughs
Regardless of the situation, an attorney can help you navigate through a divorce during the pandemic. At Levi Divorce & Family Law Attorneys we are dedicated to treating you and your case with the professional and ethical treatment it deserves. We are all in this together, and we want to help however we can.
To talk to our team about your divorce situation, call us at (718) 215-0121 today!