How Law Firms are Representing Divorces During COVID-19
Shelter-in-place orders during the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic have proven difficult – and even dangerous – for many people. Isolation, financial struggles and the stress of the virus might push couples to their breaking points. The unique pressures of the novel coronavirus have led to an increase in marital strife and related divorce and legal separation petitions. Find out how family law firms in Colorado are preparing to handle the influx of COVID-19 divorce cases, as well as what you can do if you wish to initiate the divorce process.
Divorce Rates Spike During COVID-19
The pandemic has led to a measurable increase in divorce cases around the world. Sources such as the Global Times and health officials have linked COVID-19 to a spike in divorce rates in China, for instance. The city of Xi’an has reached a record high in the number of divorce petitions in the last several weeks. Xi’an has seen such an influx that many court districts have set caps on the number of appointments available. Officials are anticipating similar spikes in other countries as the pandemic continues and other cities relax lockdown orders. Many experts believe the main cause of the spike is governmental regulations forcing couples to stay in close quarters. Being isolated at home during the pandemic could prove too much for many couples to get through.
Court Changes During the Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has heavily impacted courts all over the world. Most criminal cases in Colorado, for instance, are on an indefinite hiatus due to the laws against gatherings of 10 people or more. A criminal trial requires a jury of 12 people. Most family courts in Colorado have also closed their doors except for seeing certain types of cases, such as protection orders and juvenile neglect cases. Most courts are postponing scheduled hearings and turning to alternative ways to resolve disputes, such as allowing petitioners to file online and hosting video conferences with judges.
Denver family law attorneys are quickly adapting to the changes in the court system during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some have stayed on top of virus-related changes and are working to inform the public as to their legal rights and options during this difficult time. Several firms, like ours, are offering virtual meetings instead of in-office visits to accommodate shelter-in-place orders and social distancing requirements. Many have the resources and technology to handle a case from start to finish without having to interact with the client in person.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in Divorces
One of the key measures family law firms in Colorado are taking to respond to the increase in demand for divorce proceedings during COVID-19 is to host alternative dispute resolutions (ADRs). ADR is an alternative to traditional litigation. It does not require a trial or courtroom. It may not even require an in-person meeting if the law firm has the correct technology. Alternative dispute resolution typically involves both spouses, their attorneys (if desired), and an unbiased third party to act as a mediator or arbitrator.
The third party during ADR will not have power over the outcome of your divorce settlement. During ADR, you and your spouse will have the final say. The third party is there to help facilitate agreements and compromises between you two, improving the odds of you both avoiding court. ADR is voluntary.
If ADR succeeds, you and your spouse can avoid the expenses and hassle of litigation. You could also proceed with your divorce without needing to wait for the Colorado courts to reopen. Your Denver divorce attorney could represent you during a virtual ADR meeting to help you and your spouse agree on critical matters such as a parenting plan and property division. Then, your lawyer can send your agreement to a judge, who could sign the papers virtually. Speak to an attorney today about the possibility of a virtual divorce in Colorado during COVID-19.