COVID-19 could have many unintended costs on couples working through the difficult, complicated process of divorce.
We are already seeing the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak on the court system as Connecticut moved to delay new civil and criminal jury trials for 30 days, effective immediately. Other states are likely to follow suit.
What does this mean for your divorce?
If you’re using an attorney for your divorce, this means delays. Attorneys are at the mercy of the courts, both for proceedings and personnel. Divorce attorneys are expensive for many reasons, one of which is the amount of time it takes to work through their laborious process that includes not only judges but court-reporters, bailiffs, courthouse staff, law clerks, paralegals, and other members of their own legal staff. Creating remote work solutions for that many positions as well as the overall court system is time-consuming and costly…
Those costs will be passed on to you and the final bill for your divorce could skyrocket.
Divorce is already straining on a couple’s finances; COVID-19 and the resulting fallout could very easily double that impact.
Considering the average litigated divorce involving attorneys already costs $50,000, these delays could seriously impact how much money you have left after the divorce is final.
But delays are costly in several ways. First, and most important to a successful resolution (and healthy ongoing relationship that’s vital if you have kids), the longer a divorce takes, the more strain on the communication and overall health of an already deteriorating relationship. Delays increase the chance that the situation will worsen and agreeing on even the simplest tasks will become more difficult. Beyond the financial cost, delays could cost you more mentally, emotionally, and even physically. Time is not your friend in a divorce. Eventually, you run out of money and are forced to settle on terms that you will later regret.
What can you do?
Fortunately, there is already a divorce process in place that eliminates the need for attorneys and the court system altogether — Divorce Mediation.
Mediation is a collaborative approach to divorce that works without costly attorneys.
It’s an entirely different path to divorce, one that focuses on getting the parties to work together, which leads to a swift resolution so everyone can get on to the next phase of their lives.
Mediators are to divorce what marriage counselors are to marriage. The divorce is the client for a mediator and they will work to ensure the healthiest possible outcome which, in turn, leads to a final solution that won’t have to be revisited later because the couple wasn’t fighting against each other, but, rather, working together to ensure everyone gets what they want during one of the most challenging decisions of a marriage.
Conversely, attorneys are invested in divorces that are fraught with time-consuming delays and combative individuals; it’s the basis for their entire business model. Logically, if someone’s being paid PER HOUR, moving swiftly means less money. What interest does an attorney have in getting the parties to agree quickly?
Don’t assume that just because the courts are shut down that your attorney will stop billing you; they will find ways to turn these delays into billable hours.
If you are committed to having an attorney as part of your divorce process, work with a divorce mediator first and take the draft of the divorce to the attorney for a $500 document review instead of a $10,000 retainer.
For more information on how mediation can work for you, please contact our office to schedule a free consultation. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we have proactively transitioned all our clients to video conferencing and can conduct divorce mediations in all 50 states. Even with the coming delays, we anticipate completing divorces in the same 30–45-day window our clients have come to expect.
Divorce better. Divorce right.