Special Considerations for Divorces During COVID-19
The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has had serious ramifications on many aspects of life. One such aspect is marriage and divorce. Stress, fear, uncertainty and finding yourself in a new homelife situation while quarantined or self-isolated with your spouse could make it clear the only way forward is through a dissolution of marriage. If you and your spouse decide divorce is the right next step, realize you may have special issues to contend with due to the coronavirus.
The Current State of the Courts
Before you can dive into the matters your divorce might entail, review some logistical concerns. Almost all courthouses in Colorado are temporarily closed. You will be unable to handle your divorce in court in person as you normally would. However, many courts are holding limited hearings via telecommunication technology. You may also be able to work out a divorce agreement via mediation, if possible. If you have an emergency, such as the need for a protective order, most courthouses are still holding emergency hearings. Many judges are also passing orders virtually. Our Denver divorce lawyers can help you handle any family law issue during these complicated times.
How a Job Loss Affects a Divorce
Job loss and unemployment during COVID-19 are common. Millions of people around the US have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Job loss can affect a divorce by altering the assets and debts involved in the split. Even a temporary lapse in work could lead to thousands of dollars lost for an individual. You might fall behind in credit card, car loan, mortgage, utility, rent or other payments. You might also lose assets or incur debts due to the downward turn in the economy, especially if you have investments that are rapidly shrinking.
Negotiating property and debt division during this unusual time can be particularly difficult. The most common solution for a divorcing couple is for one spouse to keep the family home and the other to receive more assets/fewer debts in return. Due to the economic downturn, however, the value of your home might have plummeted. In addition, your debts might have increased. Many divorcing couples are renting out their homes while waiting for the economy to recover. Then, they may sell the home later or begin asset negotiation in the future.
Dividing Debt Incurred
In Colorado, equitable division laws rule the divorce courts. The courts will allocate assets and debts to each spouse during a divorce according to what is fair – not necessarily equal. When dividing debt in a typical divorce case, the courts will look at factors such as which spouse contributed to the greatest accumulation of debt, how much each spouse put into the marriage, the length of the union and how much property each spouse will receive in the divorce. Even if you and your spouse acquire more debt due to COVID-19, the courts will analyze the same factors when allocating debts and assets during your divorce. Your case may simply involve higher debts and lower asset values than it otherwise would.
Changes to Alimony/Child Support Payments in the Future
If you and your spouse proceed with a divorce during COVID-19, a judge will base his or her spousal and/or child support orders on your current financial state. This could look drastically different from how it did before the pandemic. In the future, if you return to work, you or your spouse will have the opportunity to request support modifications from the court. You will need to prove you or your spouse’s situation changed considerably from what it was when the judge issued the order to receive modification approval.
You can still work with an attorney to help you organize your assets and prepare for your divorce case. If you wish to proceed with your divorce during the COVID-19 outbreak, discuss your needs and options during a virtual meeting with a divorce lawyer near you. A lawyer can help you navigate the unique issues your divorce case might have due to the coronavirus, contact us online to schedule a consultation.