Coronavirus / COVID-19 has taken over for months now, and while a lot of things have been put on hold, your divorce doesn’t have to be one of them – in fact, here are reasons why it shouldn’t be.
There are a lot of questions about how Coronavirus / COVID-19 could affect your divorce process, which is why I’m here with this Q&A about how to prepare yourself if and when COVID does impact your divorce:
I’m quarantined due to COVID-19, but I’m in the middle of divorce negotiations with my ex. How will Coronavirus affect my divorce and how do we move forward if I can’t even leave the house?
Actually, if you’re working through Hello Divorce to complete your divorce, you’re already set up to complete the entire divorce process without leaving your house. You and your ex can complete your divorce paperwork, including financial disclosures, online via our Divorce Navigator, at your own pace, from wherever you want
Even if you are currently quarantined together, you can still get a divorce without leaving your house.
Our service was built for a time like this. Never in our wildest dreams would we have expected that our model would require a global pandemic to get really noticed and validated – but COVID has shown more and more divorcing couples just like you that our hybrid model, which pairs technology and the legal regulations from Colorado to keep costs down and conflict low. We’re helping couples move forward to their next chapter as conveniently as possible – without all the drama ordinarily associated with divorce. And, the silver lining here is that we’re bringing the cost of divorce WAY DOWN from $14,500 per person to less than $1,500 (per couple).
If you’re using a traditional lawyer or your own mediator, you should feel free to ask for a phone or video consultation to keep negotiations moving forward. Most firms are set up to provide these services to their clients.
What will happen to my divorce case if I have to go to court, but my ex or I get sick with Coronavirus / COVID-19 before our appearance?
It goes without saying that if you have (or think you have) Coronavirus, you should not appear in court. Besides, most courts in Colorado will not allow anyone diagnosed with COVID-19. If you have symptoms and think you have been exposed, call a health care provider. For more information in Colorado, you can consult these resources:
· If you have general questions about COVID-19, you can call CO HELP at 303-389-1687 or 1-877-462-2911. You can also email COHELP@RMPDC.org
Some courts are now offering virtual hearings. (even courthouses that are open). Check your local county court for more details. During the COVID-19 pandemic, most virtual hearings are held through WebEx.
If you are planning to appear in-person at a court hearing and you get sick several days in advance of your court date, you should contact your spouse to find out if s/he will agree to a continuance. Assuming that your spouse will be flexible, the two of you can submit a form requesting that the court change your hearing to another date
In any case, please call the clerk’s office to reschedule your court date or request to appear by telephone if you are not represented by an attorney, or contact your attorney to file a request for a continuance or a telephone appearance.
Sometimes local courts have different instructions, so it’s a good idea to call the general line for the family law clerk to find out what those are. And, finally, if you are in Colorado, you can check this link to find out if the court is even open. Of course, the good news is, if you’re working with Hello Divorce, our goal is to keep you out of court altogether. So, if you’re starting the divorce process now and just assume you’ll have to appear in court, that’s not necessarily true; we’ll do everything in our power to work with you and your ex to keep your case out of the court system.
Here’s an overview of our services:
· DIY Divorce: Use our Divorce Navigator to generate ALL of your mandatory divorce paperwork (including the settlement agreement).
· DIY Pro: You complete 3 guided online interviews (via our Divorce Navigator), we handle all the procedural stuff (like filing the documents at court and getting them (peacefully) served). If none of these options fit your specific needs, you are welcome to request a quote and/or check out our other options. The point is – you pay as you go – that way you are never paying for something you don’t need. Our DIY resources, articles, worksheets, step-by-step guidance, videos, and interactive tools like our Divorce Navigator help you complete and print file-ready (and editable) copies of all of your Colorado divorce paperwork online.
RELATED: The Hello Divorce Podcast: Navigating Divorce & Co-parenting During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Could the Colorado court system close down due to Coronavirus/COVID-19? What would that mean for my divorce case?
Some courts closed or suspended their procedures in July. However, most courts in Colorado are open. It’s important to check this link for updates on the Colorado court system and any instructions they provide.
Ultimately, you can still get a divorce during COVID as most in-person court requirements are currently being done virtually. Learn more.
For in-person appearances, most courts will require you to wear a mask and maintain social distancing of at least six feet. The court might also limit the number of people in the courtrooms to ensure appropriate social distancing.
My job is at risk / my small business has already taken a huge hit from Coronavirus / COVID-19. Can I adjust child and support payments now? Can I adjust payments based on my projected losses?
Your best course of action is to talk to your ex directly and explain the situation. We’re entering new ground as a nation and many of us will suffer the economic impacts of this virus. Many of us are feeling the impact already. So: make honesty your policy and make it clear to your ex that you want to maintain communication during these uncertain times, and that you plan to readjust payments when business picks up again. Probably also a good idea to demonstrate that you’re making adjustments in your own daily life, to demonstrate to your ex that you’re also making sacrifices to try to continue
support payments as normally as you can. But, in general, keep in mind that any adjustments made to spousal and child support payments will need to go through the court to become enforceable.
If direct, straightforward conversation is not an option for you and your ex, then you might consider filing a motion to modify the spousal support and/or child support. You may not get a court date to make this adjustment immediately, but hopefully, when you do you’ll see some financial relief.
Also, if you and your ex can come to an agreement on support adjustments between now and a future court date, a stipulation can be prepared and filed so that no court appearance is necessary. If you go this route, keep in mind that the agreement must be in writing and prepared as the court requires. If you need or want help, Hello Divorce can provide resources. (Request a quote here.)
What will happen to the kids if I get Coronavirus/COVID-19? How will that affect my shared custody agreement? Will I be able to make up my lost visitation time with them after I’m healthy again?
Legally speaking, it’s all going to go back to your co-parenting agreement. If you have concerns about that now, you should bring them up with your ex and suggest amending your agreement. Being proactive about this now will save you worry, concern, and heartache later, if this becomes an issue for you.
However, parenting time and exchanges must continue as normal during the COVID closures. We recommend that you and your spouse agree on the following:
· Follow CDC recommendations and the stay-at-home orders
· Obey the court decisions
· Be honest & open with your spouse about potential risks or exposures
· Provide make-up time if a parent misses parenting time.
What happens if one of our kids gets Coronavirus/COVID-19?
Once again, this is a scenario that you and your ex should discuss now. In theory, when you agreed on your co-parenting agreement, you discussed procedures to follow if your child gets hurt or needs medical treatment. That process will stand if one of your children contracts Coronavirus.
What you probably didn’t plan for is where that child should stay should they be quarantined. This is a conversation to be having with your ex now.
A few things to consider: If you have more than one child, you and your ex may wish that the healthy child resides in one home, while the other parent cares for the sick child. Or, if one of you lives with an aging parent or someone else in a high-risk category, you may decide that the children (who likely interact with more people at school than the aging parent does in your home) should reside with the other parent, to prevent even the possibility of bringing home and spreading the virus.
How do we handle co-parenting with school closures due to Coronavirus/COVID-19?
A school closure would typically be viewed similarly to a Monday holiday – but definitely look to your child custody agreement if you have one. What does it say about how to handle things when the kids are sick or when there’s no school due to a teacher workday or a single-day holiday? That can be a guide.
And of course, work with your ex. Talk. Communicate. Agree that in all of this uncertainty the one thing that will remain rock solid is your commitment to making sure your kids are safe, happy, and know they are being taken care of.
I don’t really want to escalate things. But what if my ex is taking health risks, or not taking Coronavirus/COVID-19 seriously enough in a way that could impact the health of our kids?
If you are really, truly seriously concerned about your ex’s ability to safely co-parent, you should seek legal guidance right away. If your ex has come into contact with the virus or puts themselves in risky situations, a lawyer can advise you on how to handle the situation and keep your kids safe.
Certainly, a parent has a duty to protect his/her children, but this doesn’t allow a parent to remove the children unilaterally. On the other hand, that’s not to say that a parent has the right to act recklessly and expose their children to Coronavirus.
Of course, what we all hope is that this won’t be as awful as we are worried it will become. If you find yourself now homebound (i.e. telecommuting), but still healthy, maybe this is a good opportunity to start focusing on your divorce. If divorce is where the relationship is headed, it’s better to just move forward than stay in limbo; here’s why.
These are uncertain times for all of us. Frankly, it feels like a weird science fiction novel where we’re all planning for and preparing to battle an enemy we can’t see. But as history has shown us, uncertain times can bring us together, too. This is why honest, open communication with your ex – even if you’re not friendly toward one another – about the “what ifs” is so important. Now is the time to get clarity and agreement on how to proceed with paperwork or negotiations; how to make adjustments if one or both of you takes a hit financially, and how your co-parenting might need to change in light of the virus and extreme measures of caution being taken worldwide.
Ok, ready to get UNSTUCK?
This is how to get started
- Start by reviewing our membership options. If you’re not sure which one is the right fit, you can sign up for free as a Starter Member to access our free articles, resources, and worksheets.
- Join at the $99/month DIY Divorce membership and you’ll get free access to the Divorce Navigator, letting you work at your own pace to complete and file all of your divorce paperwork. Cancel any time you want. Join at the Divorce Plus or Divorce with Benefits level and we can prepare and handle everything for you.
- Move forward. Complete your divorce paperwork and file it with the court and wait for your divorce judgment to come through. Or take advantage of our flat-rate legal services if issues arise that require legal counsel or you just need some help getting across the finish line.