With everything going on right now with the coronavirus, what happens if I want to file for divorce?
By: Brooke Shafranek
Moving forward with a divorce during the Coronavirus crisis raises many questions about how COVID 19 will impact your case.
The courts are still open but operating at a limited capacity””there will be reduced staff, and the only cases that will be heard are those related to public safety. New case filings will be accepted through e-filing and at the clerk’s window, but your case may be delayed by at least 60-90 days. Your divorce case will be accepted by the court, and you can begin the process; however, what happens during the course of your case remains uncertain.
The first step is to have an initial consultation with an attorney. To comply with social distancing measures, we offer secure telephone and video consultations with our attorneys to assess your case and keep it moving forward. Due to the crisis, whether or not you retain an attorney will have a major impact on your case.
When you begin a divorce, there is a mandatory initial status conference with the court that must take place before your case can move forward. This initial status conference is not a matter of public safety, and therefore all such hearings are delayed indefinitely. However, your attorney can work with your spouse’s counsel to draft an agreed-upon plan for your case, which will eliminate the need for your initial status conference.
After the initial status conference hurdle is crossed, the parties are still required to attend mediation. Mediation is mandatory in the state of Colorado, and it is a formal meeting where we try to resolve your case. Despite the crisis, mediations are still occurring via telephone and video conferencing.
If your divorce does not involve children, your case may not be delayed as severely if you and your spouse can come to an agreement at mediation. Should you be able to reach and sign a separation agreement, your attorney will assist in requesting that your divorce proceed forward without having to appear in court, whether it be in person, via telephone, or otherwise.
If your divorce does involve children and both parties have counsel, it will be easier to navigate parenting issues during these uncertain times. Access to the court will be delayed, so your attorney will need to get creative in resolving disputes. If only one parent is represented by an attorney, you will be required to attend a hearing and must wait for the court to schedule you in.
During these uncertain times, your attorney will be able to utilize their expertise at navigating the court system to assist you in your divorce and move the process forward with as few delays as possible in ways you may not be able to if you chose to represent yourself.