Is the Pandemic Changing the Way That People Divorce?
Only about 2-3 % of divorce cases end up going to trial. However, even among the 92-98% that avoid a court hearing, there is often rancor and bitterness that plague the relationship between the spouses. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused at least some change that has couples trying to work together for a less acrimonious divorce. Your divorce law firm is still there to help.
COVID-19 May Be Impacting Divorces
COVID-19 is changing many things about the way that we live. We may not know until after the pandemic is over exactly what is different. However, as the coronavirus drags on, certain changes are becoming apparent. One of these is how we get divorced.
One of these trends is that divorce may actually end up becoming more amicable than it otherwise would have been. This does not mean that the fundamental nature of divorce has been transformed by COVID-19. At the end of the day, divorce still involves two people who are potentially in conflict as they seek to come to agreements about custody and financial matters. Working with their family lawyer, they try to settle the matter without having to go to court.
However, the changes to the divorce process brought about by COVID-19 may be causing people to think twice about hostile and contentious divorces. There are at least anecdotal reports of couples being able to settle disputes without the need for litigation. We are also seeing divorcing couples working harder to get along during the divorce process. While divorce rates are increasing, there are a number of reasons why couples may be trying to work things out without bitterness.
Delayed Trials and Trouble Reaching the Courtroom Even With Your Divorce Law Firm Still Working
The biggest factor that has driven couples to change the way that they get divorced is the major delay to get hearings in front of a judge. While courthouses may no longer be completely closed, the court schedules are seriously backed up after months of delays during COVID-19. If you had a court hearing scheduled before the pandemic, you are likely facing an indefinite delay while the court reschedules hearings that were canceled.
One effect is that judges are reserving their schedules for the most important hearings. They are prioritizing cases that involve serious custody issues and matters of domestic violence. Family law attorneys are reporting civil divorce trials are less of a priority for judges at this time. You might still get a hearing scheduled at some point, but it’s going to take a while.
As a result, couples are realizing that they need to work together to settle some of the most pressing divorce issues. In many cases, this leads to the mediation of divorce issues as the couples come in front of a neutral third party to work out some of their differences. In general, while a mediated divorce may not be entirely smooth, it is certainly better for more harmonious relations than a divorce trial.
When divorcing spouses are able to work together to an extent, it improves their relationship somewhat. As they are able to settle their disputes in mediation, it reduces some bitterness that you would find between two people locked in a court battle. The key here is that couples know that they have largely lost the ability to access the courthouse, even with a divorce lawyer. When circumstances force them to collaborate, it takes away some of the rough edges of the situation.
Couples May Need to Live Under the Same Roof While the Process Unfolds
Another factor that has paradoxically made some divorces less bitter is that couples may continue to live while they are divorcing because of the pandemic. The real estate market is tight, and one spouse may not be able to find a place to live easily. Alternatively, one might not have the finances to move out and get a place of their own because of their job situation or economic difficulties associated with the pandemic.
Normally, you would think that this would make divorces harder when couples who do not want to be together are under the same roof. However, in many cases, couples who are forced together manage to come to an understanding to keep the peace while one of them works to move out. When couples need to remain under the same roof, they might even go out of their way to try to be more civil.
In this case, necessity makes for more harmonious relations between the divorcing spouses. Without it, the situation can become unbearable for two people who may already be under quite a bit of stress on their own. When both spouses are committed to maintaining civil relations in the home, everyone is happier.
Extraordinary Circumstances Cause Different Thinking: Your Divorce Law Firm Can Help
Sometimes, circumstances such as a global pandemic tend to bring out the best in people. You would think that people would be stressed out and acting out because of their angst. However, we have seen that can actually improve relations between divorcing couples.
People who make a commitment at the start of the divorce process to be as amicable as possible end up being able to work things out as difficulties arise, and having a family lawyer helps people work through these issues. We find that people are more likely to make that commitment now, knowing that the pandemic poses a number of difficulties.
We have also heard that people are trying to remain amicable since they do not want to cause more stress for their children. COVID-19 has already caused enough dislocation in children’s lives. Adding divorce to that compounds an already difficult situation. When the divorce is contentious, it would make things even worse. As such, many parents are acting with their children in mind and doing the best that they can to reduce the rancor in their divorce.
People Have More Ability to Focus and Work With Their Divorce Law Firm
One reason why people end up in a hostile divorce is that their other pressures in life cause them additional stress, and they cannot fully focus on what they are doing in the divorce process. When they do not have the ability to take the time to think through what they are doing, they may end up making mistakes and doing things that can exacerbate tensions.
In a sense, the pandemic has forced people to slow down. They might have more time to talk to their divorce lawyer to be strategic. Working with their divorce attorney, they could devote more effort to figuring out how to settle the divorce as opposed to being reactionary.
While time is not the only factor in whether a divorce settles, there is less pressure when things can move more slowly. A decelerated process means that people have more of an opportunity to step back from the edge and back away from conflict.
If you are considering ending your marriage or have already made that decision, contact a divorce attorney at the New Jersey firm of Lawrence Law via our contact form or by phone at (908) 645-1000. Reach out to our Red Bank or Watchung office today to set up your initial consultation and learn how a family law attorney can guide you through the divorce.