Divorce in Times of COVID-19
The lockdown orders put in place across the United States and the world have caused couples and families to spend more time at home than usual. This can undoubtedly create tensions. In fact, divorce rates are expected to increase during this period.
Florida courts have put in place special measures to ensure that certain proceedings will not be interrupted by the lockdown. On May 21, the Supreme Court of Florida issued an administrative order to provide guidance on the functioning of the courts during Phase 2 of re-opening. The order follows up with prior ones issued since March. It indicates that court proceedings will remain remote (conducted via Zoom) and the notarization requirement applicable to divorce-related documents continues to be suspended. However, the waiver of the notarization requirement does not apply to settlement agreements or any agreement setting forth the transfer of property from one spouse to the other.
Issues to keep in mind
While it is good to know that the extended closure of courts caused by the pandemic will not make a divorce proceeding stall, it is also important to evaluate other issues. As with any divorce proceeding, there are certain matters to be carefully considered before filing for divorce. These issues gain even more relevance given the current circumstances the uncertainty as to when will life get “back to normal”:
- Is the marriage salvageable? It is always advisable to try and evaluate the possibility of saving the marriage. A step in this direction would be for the spouses to try marital counseling. The Florida statutes grant the court the power to order therapy and delay the procedure up to three months.
- Asset division. Couples should also evaluate who will keep what marital assets and whether their financial position following the divorce would allow them to continue the maintenance of those assets.
- Spousal support (Alimony) and child support. The provider of the household or the partner who would presumably be obligated to pay spousal support should evaluate whether their financial situation will continue to be the same allowing them to make alimony and child support payments on time or if there is a risk that they will default due to loss of income or employment.
- Custody and childcare discussions. With schools in Florida potentially remaining close with children attending online learning sessions, spouses should consider who will be in the best position to stay home with the children and therefore get physical custody at least initially. Third party caregiver costs should also be factored in.
Contact Us Today for Help
If you are considering filing for divorce during these times and need advice in evaluating all these aspects, don’t hesitate to contact the skilled Fort Lauderdale divorce attorneys at the office of Joyce A. Julian, P.A. for help.