You Can Still Get A Divorce During COVID-19. But You Need To Get Moving, Now.
Erin Levine Founder & CEO
This is going to sound crazy, but it’s true: many traditional lawyers are not equipped to handle clients remotely. (Think paper files, on-premise servers, no laptops, landline telephones, etc.) Which means that if you’ve been weighing divorce with a traditional lawyer, you might have to have to wait for the global pandemic to end. And that could take a while.
Court Buddy has been ahead of the game for a long time, offering an awesome network of forward-thinking lawyers who were online before online lawyering was cool. And, a pandemic wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I founded Hello Divorce, but, as an online DIY divorce platform that combines cutting edge tech with on-demand access to a hand-picked team of lawyers, we’re positioned to help you reach your next chapter - whether that’s today, or down the road.
If you take anything away from the advice that follows, know this: even if you are currently quarantined together, you can still get a divorce (in most states) - without leaving your house. All you need is an internet connection and to follow these steps:
You’ve got time right now to get your ducks in a row - so, use it. As you and your ex unwind your lives, what is it that you truly want and need? What can you offer up in order to help your ex reach an agreement?
If you’re not sure what you want, what you need or how to start thinking about detangling your situation, I strongly recommend downloading the Hello Divorce Worksheet. It’s an editable document that you can use to help think through all the questions you’ll need answers to as you start the divorce process. From asset and debt division to child custody, child/spousal support decisions and more, we help you think through what you need to consider before you start to complete your divorce paperwork.
Get started on the paperwork
Quarantine is a great time to get that paperwork started. Our Divorce Navigator makes it even easier, walking you digitally through all the questions you’ll need to answer for each form, in plain English, and lets you save your work as you go. When you’re finished, the click of a button generates your California divorce paperwork, along with our step-by-step instructions on how to file that paperwork with the court. DIY Divorce members ($99/month – cancel anytime) can access the paperwork generating feature of the Divorce Navigator for free.
At its core, the divorce process is the same everywhere: file for divorce, figure out who gets what, come to agreement about co-parenting and support payments, then get your final decree of divorce. That’s why, even if you’re not in California, the free version of our Divorce Navigator, which includes access to our articles, resources and worksheets, will still help you think through the basics, like how to determine joint vs separate marital property, how to separate your retirement accounts, and how to design a thoughtful co-parenting plan.
Be confident in knowing that you can, in fact, DIY divorce - even during the pandemic
Most states allow some form of DIY divorce. Completing as much of the paperwork as you can on your own will save you time and money, no matter where you live.
Even if you’re still living together, in most states, you can still file for legal separation and start the countdown clock on the mandatory time required before a divorce is granted (depending on your state). If your separation is amicable, quarantine is a great time to work through the financial disclosures together. The faster you complete and file the paperwork after the clock starts on a required waiting period, the faster your final decree of divorce will be granted.
Take heart: the courts will reopen
The court system won’t be closed forever. Even in spite of the current stay-at-home directive in most states, we believe that courts will reopen soon and will be able to accept filings in new formats. Some court systems already are. And we expect the rest to follow shortly, at least where we’re based, in California.
If you have questions about the status of courts being open, you can find court information and coronavirus/COVID-19 updates for every state at this link.
Though, keep in mind that you don’t have to go to court to finalize your divorce.
But more importantly: you only ever have to go to court in a divorce if you and your ex have a disagreement that can’t be resolved on your own or with the help of a mediator. You’ll need to agree on these three things to finalize your divorce, but at Hello Divorce, our goal is to get you through this process as efficiently and affordably as possible – which means that we do everything in our power to keep you out of court.
You can also keep your divorce out of court altogether by working with a private judge or through a mediator. (Many mediators are offering online mediation right now.) If you can keep conflict low, you can keep this process moving forward efficiently.
But what if I have a contested issue?
You can always hire lawyers via Court Buddy to represent you. In general, if you do have to go to court, your hearing may be pushed out farther than you’d like, or maybe it will be held by phone or video. But, Court Buddy’s network of lawyers are equipped to work remotely.
If you’re in California, my team at Hello Divorce can provide legal coaching at a flat-rate fee, in increments as little as 30-minutes; we can prepare a trial brief for you or a number of other services - all at a transparent, flat-rate fee. If you need more comprehensive representation, we have a law firm too.
And finally: if divorce is where the relationship is headed, it’s better to just move forward than stay in limbo; here’s why, for a number of legal and financial reasons.
These are uncertain times for all of us. Frankly, it feels like a weird science fiction novel where we’re all planning for and preparing to battle an enemy we can’t see. But as history has shown us, uncertain times can bring us together, too. Which is why honest, open communication with your ex – even if you’re not friendly toward one another – about the “what ifs” is so important. Now is the time to get clarity and agreement on how to proceed with paperwork or negotiations; how to make adjustments if one or both of you takes a hit financially, and how your co-parenting might need to change in light of the virus and extreme measures of caution being taken worldwide.
You’ll get through this, because we all will.