Am I Able to Have a Hearing for my Divorce When Everything is Shut Down During COVID-19?


Ask a Lawyer

Question:

Am I able to have a hearing for my divorce when everything is shut down?

Answer:

Virginia attorney Erik W. McCauley

As states have taken various measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, including shutting down most court procedures, many parties hoping for a quick divorce process have been left trying to figure out how to get their divorce done.

While I am licensed only in Virginia, and this article will focus on Virginia procedures, many states have similar procedures and options for filing and finalizing a divorce even during this shutdown. You should consult with a licensed attorney in your state to get fact-specific answers for your situation prior to taking action in court.

Many courts only are allowing hearings for emergency matters, such as protective orders, emergency custody hearings, or arraignments and bond hearings for incarcerated persons.

However, oftentimes, parties can file and finalize their divorce without ever stepping a foot into the courthouse or having a hearing. If you and your spouse are able to negotiate and sign a settlement agreement for your divorce, then you may be able to get divorced without a hearing.

A settlement agreement covers everything that a judge would otherwise address if you and your spouse had a trial. Issues of spousal support, custody, property distribution, etc. would be agreed upon between the both of you without the need for a judge telling either of you what to do. This usually is the easiest, fastest, and cheapest option for both parties, as litigation expenses can mount quickly.

However, I strongly would recommend that you do not attempt to write the settlement agreement yourself. I have had many consults with people coming in with a signed agreement they obtained online or wrote themselves, and I have had to give them the bad news that they have somehow put themselves in a difficult situation which sometimes cannot be changed.

Once you have a settlement agreement, a divorce can be filed in the Circuit Court in your jurisdiction based on no fault grounds, which either are having lived separate and apart for one year (if you have minor children in common) or for six months (if you have no minor children in common).

Then you and your spouse can submit the appropriate signed and notarized paperwork to the court for a judge to review and sign. If everything is appropriate, a judge will sign the paperwork, and the court clerk’s office will mail signed copies of the final divorce paperwork to you and your spouse.

Many courts still are operating without hearings, so matters like this can be filed and finalized during the COVID-19 shutdown. If you and your spouse either have an agreement or you believe you can negotiate one, contact a licensed attorney in your state to discuss all the issues to be negotiated and to get a formal settlement agreement drafted to make sure your interests are protected. Your attorney can then file the appropriate paperwork to file and finalize your divorce.

Many courts still are operating without hearings, so matters like this can be filed and finalized during the COVID-19 shutdown. If you and your spouse either have an agreement or you believe you can negotiate one, contact a licensed attorney in your state to discuss all the issues to be negotiated and to get a formal settlement agreement drafted to make sure your interests are protected. Your attorney can then file the appropriate paperwork to file and finalize your divorce.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Virgina divorce lawyer Erik W. McCauleycontact Cordell & Cordell.

End of Content Icon

Leave a Reply