With the struggles of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continuing, you may be like many men and fathers having issues, related to your legal situation. Your divorce may have been underway, and the pandemic now is impeding your ability to progress toward a new life.
Your child’s custody situation may not yet have been put into writing, and with no order dictating parenting time, the pandemic and your co-parent may be keeping your child away from you.
You may be forced to file to a family court system that currently is closed in your state, waiting for a reopening, in order to modify child or spousal support, after losing your job during the Coronavirus pandemic.
By filing ahead of time, you are saving your place in line and being proactive. You are putting your case and your future first, according to Cordell & Cordell attorneys.
The role of technology during the pandemic
Cordell & Cordell is producing a free weekly webinar series and daily podcasts about the family law issues the Coronavirus pandemic is raising. During the April 23 webinar, the firm’s divorce attorneys discussed how family courts across the United States are implementing the use of technology, in order to address cases.
“In Illinois, we’re seeing a gradual progression to digitizing the court system and making the courtrooms available to people who can’t access the physical courtrooms,” said Cordell & Cordell Litigation Attorney Leander Gorski. “It has been a very slow process, but we’ve been starting to see more and more counties across the state open up for Zoom hearings, telephonic hearings, pretrial conferences, and things like that.”
This webinar debunked the myth that because the family courts are closed, there is nothing that can be done, regarding any type of family law issue, especially divorce.
However, there are ways that your case can progress, even during the pandemic: mediation.
Learning more about informal mediation
“When it comes to mediation, it really is an alternative for guys that are, right now, in the middle of a divorce,” said Cordell & Cordell CEO, Executive/Managing Partner Scott Trout. “They can’t get to court, unless it’s an emergency, so many of them think ‘There’s nothing I can do.’ But what we can do is some informal mediation.”
Informal mediation can save you thousands of dollars and can help simplify aspects of the divorce, such as property division, parenting plans, child support, and spousal support, among others.
“We highly recommend to all of our clients and anyone going through a divorce, try to resolve things amicably outside the courtroom, even when there’s not a pandemic,” said Gorski. “Now with the courtrooms being closed, now’s a great opportunity to do those things.
“You don’t need to get into a shared conference room to make that happen. There’s a lot of technology that’s available to everyone to make that happen.”
Prepare your case
If you are a person looking to divorce or file with family courts and you do not believe that formal or informal mediation is an option, it is imperative that you take necessary and proactive steps, in order to improve your case.
“Things we’re looking for when we start a divorce case are financial records of the family, the assets, debts, and spending, so those looking to file can take this time to gather that information for us,” said Cordell & Cordell Litigation Partner Bridget Landry.
Understand the rules of your state
You may be like many parents in various areas of the country, who are facing a separation from your child, due to the Coronavirus. Your co-parent may not want to take part in a custodial exchange out of fear. However, family courts have been very clear on where they stand, regarding this important issue.
“What is important to know for fathers to know about North Carolina’s stay-at-home order, is that it specifically permits travel related to custodial exchange,” said Cordell & Cordell Senior Lead Litigator Kara Goodman. “So if the mother of your children is telling you, ‘We’re ordered to stay at home. We can’t travel, so you don’t get to see the kids this weekend,’ that certainly is not the case.”
“I would encourage all fathers to take a look at your state’s stay-at-home, to make sure that you understand what is permitted and what is not,” said Goodman.
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Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.