The stressful circumstances and confinement resulting from the coronavirus crisis are likely to underscore marital rifts, and may have led you to the realization that ending your marriage is a necessary step for your future. You may be wondering what, if anything, you can do to move forward with a divorce while under a Washington, DC, Virginia, or Maryland Stay-at-Home Order.
It is important to know that in most divorces, the process does not start with a court filing, and fortunately, there is a lot that can be done, even while social distancing and court closures are in place. Some steps that can easily be undertaken right now include:
What you can do:
Consult with an experienced family law attorney. For many, the first, and a very important step, in a divorce is meeting with a family law attorney who can explain the processes and options available to you, and help you craft a plan that meets your needs and goals. Even during the coronavirus pandemic, FTLF attorneys and staff are available to assist you—by phone, email, and video-conferencing—in all phases of a divorce, including initial consultations and strategy, litigation, virtual mediations, negotiations, and Collaborative Law meetings.
Take time to think through your priorities and goals. Now is a perfect time to take stock of what really matters to you and how you want your future to look, and your family law attorney can help guide you through that process by asking the right questions and directing you toward helpful resources. By understanding your goals, you will be well positioned to develop a strategy for obtaining them.
Gather information. Gathering information about your finances, including the extent of your assets and debts, as well as your spending habits, can be very helpful in assessing both your divorce process options and what you need in order to have financial security upon divorce. This might include obtaining and reviewing account statements, reviewing your credit card statements, and developing a realistic budget.
What your family lawyer can do:
Negotiate agreements. Temporary and permanent agreements regarding child custody and financial issues (including child support, spousal support, and access to or division of assets and debts) can be negotiated, drafted, and executed, all while abiding by Stay-at-Home Orders and implementing social distancing measures.
Prepare court filings. While for many practical purposes, the local courts in the DMV are effectively closed to all but emergency matters and hearings, filing the necessary paperwork to begin or advance your case may still be an option. In situations where you cannot file until the court reopens, drafting documents and other preparations can be undertaken to ensure your case progresses as expeditiously as possible.
To discuss your questions and options about how to begin your divorce process, schedule a meeting with an FTLF family law attorney who can help you develop a comprehensive plan.