The coronavirus pandemic caused the widespread shutdown of most businesses and public services, it spared no one—including those who were looking to end their marriage, or already in the process of doing so. Now add to the list, the couples that spent too much time together and now also want to divorce.
The closures slowed the roll of New Yorkers involved in divorce, child custody and family courts, forcing many couples to remain in even closer quarters with estranged spouses than before, if not frozen in complicated litigations over property divisions or child custody. It was an especially tough situation for some, such as those who were seeking modifications of support payments after a job loss or who had been mentally and emotionally preparing to file for a while, only to have this setback.
Massive delays for divorces
This unprecedented shutdown lasted in New York through mid July, when civil courts began gradually reopening in a limited capacity. By mid-June, more state and federal court employees began returning to their jobs, and cases began to resume, although remotely in most instances.
For those who were already in the process of a disposition, it’s estimated that there were around 80,000 family law decisions put on hold. Since the reopening, there are new barriers keeping some people on hold, including job loss from the pandemic, which requires re-calculating the circumstances. Others have experienced a delay as the courts play catch-up.
In high-asset divorce cases, such as those with business interests at stake, there are new considerations surrounding the business’ pre-coronavirus worth versus its current worth. Spouses who anticipated receiving assets from the business may have to reconcile potential losses through other property and asset divisions. This may cause even further delay.
A quick adaptation
All things considered, the courts in New York were able to re-establish a fairly swift remote setup, which is now processing divorce and other family law cases. Adapting to these changes will take time for litigants, attorneys, and the courts.
Many attorneys continued taking cases on behalf of clients throughout the shutdown from a remote setting. As the courts begin to reopen closer to normal capacity, it’s helpful for people seeking divorce and family law issues to plan ahead and get a strategy in place prior to a court date.
An experienced matrimonial and family law attorney will help you strategize a way to make your case as effective and efficient as possible in the coronavirus climate. And remember—the setbacks may feel highly distressing or even insurmountable, but it’s never too late to get your case started so you can be on the road to live happily ever after.