Navigating Divorce During the Covid-19 PandemicJanuary 31, 2021
Most people agree the divorce process is difficult during normal times.
Now, during the Covid-19 pandemic, there are more challenges that make navigating the legal system extra frustrating and confusing.
In Massachusetts, each of the Probate and Family Courts have their own unique rules and procedures. During this pandemic, court staffing is 50%, with some of the staff working remotely, with limited access to files. At present the courts are open to the public, however, there are strict social distancing rules, as well as intermittent court closures.
To solve these problems, many of the courts have installed virtual registries, where the public can log on through a link and talk to a clerk. However, as hard as the courts are working within the ordered restrictions, the courts are severely backed up, resulting in longer waiting times for assigning new matters, as well as scheduling hearings on existing cases.
The following are three tips when considering divorce during the Covid-19 pandemic:
- CONSULT WITH AN EXPERIENCED FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY WHO PRACTICES IN YOUR COUNTY. That lawyer will be familiar with the specific rules and procedures of that court, which will better able your case to flow through the system as efficiently as possible within the Covid-19 restrictions.
- CONSIDER AN UNCONTESTED DIVORCE. An uncontested divorce is where both parties agree on the terms of their divorce. The parties can each hire a lawyer who will draft the separation agreement, provide legal advise, assist with the completion and filing of the divorce petition, and attend the uncontested hearing. An uncontested divorce will happen more quickly because you are avoiding multiple court hearings. Once the separation agreement and joint petition for divorce are drafted and filed with the court, all you have to wait for is the court to schedule the uncontested hearing and approve the agreement. An uncontested divorce may be less costly than a contested divorce because you avoid attending multiple court hearings and the drafting of lengthy court pleadings.
- CONSIDER A MEDIATED DIVORCE. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution. Both parties agree to hire a neutral person, the mediator, to assist them with negotiating their separation agreement. Mediation is encouraged by the courts and is useful when the couple agrees on most issues and are committed to working out contested issues outside of court. Mediation is less costly than a contested divorce. The couple can decide to hire lawyers any time during the process.
Not sure what process is right for you? Contact Fleischer Law Solutions, PLLC and set up a consultation to determine what is the right solution for your situation.
This article does not constitute legal advice and is for information purposes only. This does not create an attorney/client relationship on the part of the reader.