Divorce During COVID – How We Have Adapted
Like almost everything else in life, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly altered the practice of family law. With court closures and social distancing measures, the court system, mediators, and clients have turned to technology to keep the divorce process moving along. Family law matters such as divorce and paternity can be difficult and complex, so the idea of using a virtual meeting platform, like Zoom, for mediator-client consultations, mediations, and hearings was initially met with skepticism. As a client, you may wonder, as we once did, whether these meetings and proceedings can be effective if they are not handled in person. After all, divorce and paternity matters often involve highly sensitive issues such as parenting, time-sharing, child support, and alimony.
Before the pandemic, it may have been difficult to imagine going through the process of divorce without meeting in person. Thanks to today’s virtual meeting technology, you can still feel connected and supported during every step of the process.
The Consultation During your initial consultation, you’ll begin to establish a relationship with your mediator that will grow as you work together navigating through the legal process. While you may now be logging in for a virtual consultation from your home as opposed to visiting your mediator’s office, you will still be able to make eye contact, hear encouraging words of support and guidance, and discuss the legal process in a meaningful manner.
Communication Virtual meeting platforms have made videoconferencing the new norm, largely replacing traditional telephone conferences and in-person meetings. Communications with your mediator will be much more convenient since your conferences can now occur from any location, at any mutually agreeable time. Features such as screen sharing also make meetings more productive since you can review documents together and ensure that everyone is on the same page. Hearings Since the court system has transitioned to virtual hearings, you will now appear in court by logging in from a comfortable location of your choosing. On your screen, you’ll be able to see the judge as well as the other party. Your testimony will be taken virtually. Many clients have even found it to be less intimidating and more comfortable to participate virtually from their home or other preferred location rather than appearing in-person.
Aside from occasional interruptions and delays due to connection issues, this process operates rather smoothly, with judges able to go through their docket in the same manner as in-person hearings. Additionally, these virtual hearings save on travel time, parking garage fees, and courtroom waiting times, where you can spend a significant amount of time outside of the courtroom just waiting for your case to be called.
Although the pandemic adds another layer, divorce and other family law matters can be handled efficiently in a virtual environment.