How To Get Divorced During a Pandemic
The news of the novel coronavirus hit the U.S. fast and hard at the beginning of 2020. You may have been in the middle of negotiating your divorce or just about to put the pen to paper to sign your divorce settlement when everything was upended.
Can you still get a divorce in New York during the pandemic? What should you expect? Here’s what you need to know.
How COVID-19 Is Impacting Divorces on Long Island
The impact of the coronavirus seemingly knows no end — every industry, company, and family has been affected by COVID-19, and it’s not yet known what will happen next or how long the effects of the coronavirus on the economy will last. This means that along with everything else, the way divorces are done has also changed.
Deciding what to do with the marital home is an important part of your divorce, but with the housing market practically in a freeze during the coronavirus, selling your home and splitting the proceeds may not be the best option at this time. If possible, consider what may be able to be offered in exchange for the house under equitable distribution laws. Or, discuss how one spouse may be able to buy the other’s share in the home by making payments over time.
Unless one parent is ill or is at a high risk of contracting the coronavirus, or the child is in an at-risk category, it’s unlikely that the pandemic will be a factor in how a child custody determination is made. This will still largely be based on who is able to provide the most loving, stable home environment for the child both now and in the future. Visitation should still be determined and executed without interference as well, with the exception of extenuating circumstances.
Child Support and Alimony
How much money you earn is one of the primary deciding factors of how much alimony or child support you have to pay. Many people are losing their jobs or their hours are being reduced significantly due to social distancing policies. Keep records of your finances and inform your lawyer of any change in your ability to pay your child or spousal support. Do not stop making payments or pay less until you’ve successfully modified your court order.
What You Can Do
There are several things you can do to help your divorce go more smoothly during the coronavirus pandemic, including:
Agree to Virtual Mediation
Most courthouses on Long Island are closed except for emergencies and certain e-filing situations. If you have a divorce hearing scheduled, this will likely be delayed until courts reopen, which will significantly delay your divorce. You can speed up the divorce process by agreeing to virtual mediation. You and your ex can sit down online with a mediator who will work with you both to help you reach an agreement on various aspects of your divorce.
Compromise to Help Reduce Legal Fees
If you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse are able to reach a compromise on one or more issues relating to your divorce, this can help you save on legal fees. The more you agree on before you approach your attorneys, the easier, faster, and cheaper the formal divorce process will be.
Consider Refinancing Your Home at a Lower Interest Rate
If you’re not able to sell your home, consider refinancing at a lower interest rate. Some financers won’t refinance during a divorce, so be sure to check with your lender to determine if this is a possibility.
Getting a Divorce During COVID-19? Make Sure You Have Legal Help First
Dissolving your marriage can be hectic on its own, without doing it during a pandemic. If you need to get a divorce in the midst of COVID-19, it’s critical to reach out for legal advocacy as soon as you can. At Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C., we are providing free phone consultations during the coronavirus pandemic. We can help you move forward with the next chapter of your life, even with the new challenges that the pandemic brings. Contact us today for a consultation at 631-923-1910.
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