Many people are going to be wondering what their options are if their marriages are deteriorating under the stress of these difficult times. We have been warned to expect a spike in couples seeking to divorce due to the pressures brought on by COVID-19.
But is divorcing even possible during a coronavirus lockdown?
At Seattle Divorce Services we are currently doing most of our work online. We are working with clients by phone and email, and are also implementing video conferencing abilities.
We have been seeing the situation with the courts change almost daily. They are scrambling to find ways to keep providing court services while keeping litigants safe. Law firms as well are making changes to adapt to the new reality and changing government measures.
At present, the courts are limiting the kinds of matters they can hear to the most pressing cases and are pretty much handling those hearings by telephone. While we do have the ability to file and finalize divorce cases online, because the situation as to hearings is in flux, other options are needed.
Fortunately, because of our firm’s focus on alternative dispute resolution, we are well equipped to help clients proceed through their divorce using other means:
Using mediation or collaboration is one good option that maintains COVID-19 safety.
Those methods allow the couple to work together, with professional support, to discuss their issues in an emotionally protective setting and develop mutually agreeable solutions to their divorce issues. The differences between mediation and collaboration primarily come down to the amount of support and protective agreements needed. While public gatherings are limited, alternatives such as video conferencing, phone calls, and email can be used.
For cases where the couple does not feel able to work together, another option is arbitration.
This means that if both sides agree, we can hire a private judge to hear whatever issues that need to be decided. This can be done remotely as well. Not only does this allow us to have issues decided that the courts might not be available for, but it allows us to have more say in the timing and even the procedural rules for doing so, which can help the process be as or more efficient than proceeding to court.