As if getting a divorce isn’t difficult enough already, trying to get one during a pandemic can seem overpowering. With disruptions in normal routines, jobs and lost income, fluctuating stock markets, and the uncertainty of the real estate market, it might seem almost impossible to move on once the decision to divorce has been met. Just how do you start the divorce process when there is and unclear future is?
There might be changes to how a divorce can be done, but it can be accomplished as we discover ways to adjust to a new form of what used to be normal. Courts are adjusting and altering how filings and court ordered mediations are being managed. Meetings might need to be done virtually using video conferencing for the not too distant future.
As this can be an emotional and distressing time, concentrate on what you can control: examine the options for divorce; interview and put together your team of professionals; gather your financial records; devise a budget; consider your living arrangements; and, if possible, start to talk about a parenting plan when minor children are involved.
Examine Your Options For Divorce
The choice of process relies upon on how complex your situation is and how amicably you both can communicate throughout the divorce process. Examining this list will assist you in understanding your options:
- Pro Se — Parties agree to a settlement among themselves and file all documentation by themselves. This is usually suggested only for very straightforward situations.
- Mediation — A cooperatively agreed-upon unbiased 3rd party directs the talks to come to a settlement. This could include each of you retaining an attorney to offer direction during the process and examine the divorce documentation.
- Collaborative process — A collaboratively-trained team comprising of each spouses attorneys, a financial “neutral”, like a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, a counselor, advisor or child consultant (if required) that meets as a group with the spouses to come to a settlement. The attorneys are in agreement to not litigate, even when no settlement can be reached.
- Conventional attorney to attorney — The attorneys work amongst themselves to arrange the settlement for the spouses and often discourage the spouses from talking with each other in regard to the issues being discussed throughout the process.
- Litigation — A judge will make the final decisions on matters that can’t be agreed upon otherwise.
You can start to decide which process is best suited for you by researching online and by phone calls or video conferences. If you haven’t received guidance, you could look for local or statewide mediation associations to locate a divorce mediator or the family law area in the state bar association to acquire a divorce attorneys list. Get with a couple of these individuals to talk about your circumstances.
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Interview And Put Together Your Team Of Professionals
In a lot of cases, each spouse needs to retain an attorney that has experience in family law. The involvement of the attorneys’ can be restricted to regular consultations when mediation is the determined route and an issue of cost. You’ll want to make sure you’re content with your attorney, spending time talking with them will establish if their approach to a divorce is agreeable with what you want. Your team of professionals could also include a financial advisor that specializes in divorce for help with the financial decision making, and a counselor or advisor to manage the emotional and behavioral elements when getting through a divorce.
Compile Your Financial Details
Compile details on your income, assets and debts, comprising of pay statements, tax returns, financial institutional accounts, investment and retirement accounts, pensions, trading interests, real estate, and liabilities. Once more, a lot of of this can be carried out online and details may be shared using a secure online portal for the elimination of in-person contact. It will be beneficial to have this information easily accessible to work with your team on creating possible settlement choices. Agreeing on an appraisal date for your assets and available income could be confrontational, particularly if you have noticed significant changes recently, so be ready to update information when going through negotiations.
Devise A Budget
A vital step is establishing a budget to understand how much money you’ll require to cover essential and discretional living expenses. Taking time when you are secluded at home going over newer credit card statements or checking account statements to figure out your recent expenses will be beneficial. These details will be crucial to assist you in understanding how much income you’ll require after the divorce and usually is helpful to establish child support and alimony amounts and will be part of the agreement. Your expenses might have changed throughout this time. For instance, it is probable that you’re spending more on food and less on gas, eating out, and childcare. You’ll need to update your expenses as time passes since you’ll want your expenditures to correctly reflect your lifestyle and requirements.
Consider Your Living Arrangements
Think about how your living arrangements might change and what is available that will fit your budget. Real estate transactions are progressing throughout this time; you might want to start exploring your options if moving is required. Real estate can lose value throughout this time, so make sure to use up to date data in your research.
Discuss A Parenting Plan
It can still be challenging in a lot of amicable divorce cases to devise a co-parenting plan that works for the both the children and the parents. This pandemic needs parents to carefully think about and plan for travel and living arrangements for the children, if they’re living independently. Start talking about parenting plans throughout this time and remember that planning for things like travel between the parent and sharing home schooling duties also need to be taken into consideration. Many jurisdictions require parenting classes or mediations session to address co-parenting. The accessibility and format of these sessions could be restricted for the not to distant future.
Throughout these uncertain times, you and your spouse should decide if you’ll be comfortable starting a divorce process largely through video or phone conferences. Dealing with privacy while going through the process, specifically with children, could be an issue. With everyone spending a lot of their time at home, it could be difficult to have calls or video conferences that go without disruption. Nevertheless, you will need to think about the trade-offs in waiting to start a divorce.
Once face-to-face meetings can happen, you might need to decide if you would rather be involved in in-person meetings with everyone in face masks or be involved in video conference calls. A lot of videoconferencing software has the capability for ‘break-out’ rooms, enabling private consultations to be held throughout video conference negotiations.
The “new normal” could be here for long time. If you decide to progress with a divorce, expect to make a couple of changes to the typical process. With the right team backing you, you’ll get through this uncertainty and disorder and confidently progress to better times ahead.
- Tighe, Janet, and Susan Miller. “7 Tips to Smoothly End Your Marriage in the Age of Coronavirus, Where Divorce Is Harder than Ever.” MarketWatch, MarketWatch, 29 May 2020, www.marketwatch.com/story/divorce-during-the-pandemic-is-harder-than-it-already-is-heres-what-you-need-to-know-2020-05-27.
Choose the Right Divorce Lawyer in Arizona
Regardless of the choice you make, it’s important you make the best choice for you when hiring a divorce attorney. Remember: The decisions you make now can affect your future. Ultimately, choosing the best lawyer will depend on which lawyer feels best for you and your situation.
Engaging with an attorney to protect your family is never an easy step. Whether you need to protect your family from the unthinkable or restructure your family through collaborative divorce, we’re here to help. When you’re ready to schedule a consultation with Michelle Ogborne, please visit the scheduling page to get started.