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Divorce and COVID-19: What to Know If You Need a Lawyer During the Pandemic

As a result of the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus, our society has been faced with what most would agree is a major crisis. Businesses and schools have been closed, non-essential workers may be adjusting to telecommuting, and most families are continuing to stay home in order to flatten the curve.

This can put an overwhelming amount of stress on healthy relationships. But when a partnership has already become strained, having to quarantine together or face an uncertain financial future can be even more emotionally challenging. Not surprisingly, these conditions may put so much stress on couples that divorce might seem inevitable. In fact, many divorce lawyers around the world are already reporting or anticipating major surges in legal filings to dissolve partnerships as a result of COVID-19.

This isn’t to say that divorce will be a certainty for you. But if you have already been considering a separation or feel your relationship may not be able to weather the storm, it may be of comfort to learn a bit more about your options. While the pandemic does make any type of legal claim more difficult to file and resolve, you can still move forward with your life while you keep your loved ones safe.

How to Find Divorce Attorneys When Sheltering in Place

Thanks to the internet, finding an attorney during the pandemic isn’t all that different from finding one at any other time. You can still ask friends and family who they might recommend or conduct a Google search to find divorce lawyers in your area.

Keep in mind, however, that some law firms may have been forced to furlough staff members in an attempt to avoid financial hardship. Some states do consider law offices to be essential businesses, but that may not be the case everywhere. In Tennessee, legal and judicial services are essential — but not every physical law office will remain open during the pandemic. Most will update their operational hours on their Google My Business pages or will provide a way for you to contact them to find out whether they can assist you during this time.

How to Consult With Divorce Lawyers While in Quarantine

Legal consultations definitely have a different set of protocols when no one can be within six feet of each other. Most law offices are not providing an option for in-person meetings at the moment, so most consultations will occur via telephone or video conference. These meetings need to occur via secured teleconferencing platforms, given the sensitive nature of cases being discussed.

While this meeting may not be much different from talking to an attorney face-to-face, you may find it challenging to schedule a call if you’re still living with your soon-to-be ex or if you share children together. Divorce lawyers will be sensitive to these issues, particularly if both parties are staying home. You may be able to correspond via email with your lawyer or set up a teleconference call via your mobile device from your personal vehicle in order to obtain some privacy.

How the Pandemic Might Impact Court Proceedings

You may have already determined you don’t want to wait to move forward with divorce proceedings until after stay-at-home orders are lifted. However, it’s important to remember that divorce is not typically a fast process. In Tennessee, for example, you’ll need to wait anywhere from 60 to 90 days after drafting a divorce complaint before the divorce can be finalized. And before you even get to that point, you’ll need to prepare your case.

During this time, your divorce lawyers may advise that you gather as much financial documentation and other evidence as possible. If you and your spouse have amicably decided to file, you’ll also want to work out agreements for asset management. Your lawyers can help you iron out the details remotely and ensure all of the necessary paperwork is completed.

Courts are still in session during this time, so you may be able to file your divorce claim now. That said, you may not want to rush to divorce during a time of unprecedented stress. Talking to divorce lawyers in your area can help you determine whether this is the right move for your family.