Divorce in the Age of Corona: What are the New Considerations?
Uncontested Divorce Mediation
Posted September 10, 2020
Divorce is one of those things that happens no matter what else the world is doing. For a few months in 2020, the world stood still. People isolated at home, worked at home, and events across the globe were cancelled or postponed. During the pandemic, most separating couples agreed to put their divorce progress on hold for a time. But that time is over.
COVID isn’t going anywhere, so it’s time for the divorce standards to build a “New Normal” with everyone else. What has changed about conducting Chicago divorce mediation? What methods should be used to get divorced in virus-safety? What new divorce terms are necessary for a post-COVID separation? Divorce in the time of Corona can be handled in a way that is safe and beneficial for everyone when everyone is working toward the same ends.
Today, we’d like to lead the conversation on how getting divorced has (or should) change in light of the recent circumstantial changes.
Divorcing Remotely and Online
The first and clearest choice is to favor online Chicago divorce mediation services. Meeting in-person with lawyers and mediators is less practical now that in-person meetings should be limited for public safety. Fortunately, handling your divorce can be handled through a Zoom call almost as easily as it can sharing a room with your divorce advisors.
Zooming Your Divorce Professionals
Meet with your Chicago divorce mediation professionals through video meetings. You can get the same benefit as an in-person meeting by talking over the phone or through a video call. Meet face-to-face, as your questions, and get the guidance you need from a person you can trust – without actually sharing physical airspace.
Choose a Cloud Document Manager
Each divorcee is free to choose their tools, from to-do lists to excel sheets, but we strongly recommend a document manager. Being able to legally sign and store documents online is essential for conducting a remote Chicago divorce mediation session. A cloud document manager ensures all your documents are available, sharable, and signable at any time.
Remote Notarization and Printer-to-Court Services
There are also specialized remote services that can come in extreme handy about now. For example, you don’t need to meet a notary to get a document notarized – there are now online notarization services. For documents that must be submitted in printed form, sign everything digitally and use a service that transports your documents directly from the printer to the correct court clerk or inbox.
Collaboration Over Conflict in Divorce
We strongly advise against conflict-based divorces in the post-COVID environment. Conflict leads to long negotiations and often courtroom divorces. In a time when courtrooms are not necessarily safe, taking your divorce to a judge is not a wise decision. Only divorcees who need the legal protection of the court in a truly hostile divorce should take this risk.
Even separating couples who disagree on most points now have more to gain from divorce mediation than from a combative divorce. You will need to work together in order to separate safely. A divorce mediator can more easily and affordably walk you through a safe remote divorce, including how to resolve serious disagreements.
Post-COVID Custody Agreements
Now for the question of the hour: How should we adapt custody agreements in light of COVID safety? The most burning issue is exchange safety. Children passing between two households are subject to two different standards for safety, different isolation levels, and family members who might be vectors or at-risk.
Any custody agreements drawn up from here-on-out should include these essential COVID considerations, unique to each family’s needs.
Shared Virus-Safety Policies and Priorities
The single most important thing about post-COVID custody terms is that the co-parents agree. Maybe both of you care strongly and will turn your homes into dual-quarantine-zones where the kids virally safe 100% of the time. Or maybe you both care very little and are OK with casual PPE use as your only precaution.
Most likely, there will be differences of opinion. The custody agreement sets your compromises in stone. Masks or no masks? At-risk isolation plans or casual across-the-board caution? It’s up to you and your ex to decide on the best approach for your co-parenting safety plan.
Zoom vs In-Person Parental Time
The recent quarantine brought up a vitally important distinction: Video calls are not the same as personal time with one’s kids. But they are much better than nothing, and simplify the whole COVID-exposure issue with frequent exchanges.
It’s time to define parenting time as divided between remote and in-person parenting time. Parents not currently in physical custody may want to demand both regular video calls and a schedule of custody exchanging to be a COVID-safe and complete part of a child’s life.
COVID-Safe Custody Exchanges
How will your agreement handle custody exchanges? Many parents will use their agreed safety rules to simplify exchange worries. If both families have the same PPE or isolation safety standards, then custody exchanges are likely to be equal in safety. If the families have uneven standards for (or ability to implement) COVID safety measures, then you will need an agreed process to safely exchange kids.
The safest approach -when possible – is for both families to isolate / quarantine for two weeks so that all persons are definitely COVID-free before each exchange.
Terms for Family Risk Factors
You may need to write unique Chicago divorce mediation terms with consideration for at-risk family members or high-risk jobs. An elderly relative in the house increases the need for COVID caution, as does anyone who might have a weak or compromised immune-system. Conversely, many people have jobs that take them out of the house and increase their risk level, ranging from delivery drivers to repair technicians.
Your Chicago divorce mediation agreement can provide some compromise for these risk differences. For example, you might write in that all visits must be announced, so that at-risk family members can be secured in their room. Or define that someone with a high-risk job take special PPE precautions when keeping the children.
COVID-Based Financial Changes
Last but not least, don’t forget to adapt any ongoing divorce plans with regards to recent drastic changes. COVID hit every industry across the board and across the globe. Millions were laid off, millions more have seen their roles change drastically. Divorce agreements lean heavily on the current income and situation of the separating spouses. If that has changed recently (as a result of COVID or not), then remember to account for these changes in the Chicago divorce mediation terms.
Lost Jobs and New Incomes
Many people lost their jobs during the COVID shakeup. Their new role may not be a 1:1 comparison in terms of pay and circumstances. One or both spouses are likely to have been affected financially in early 2020, and this will need to be reflected in your divorce agreement. From asset splitting to child support, changes in finances are significant in a divorce.
With or without a change in jobs, many families experienced hardship during COVID. Many people have lost someone, have new medical bills, or have had to support a relative who was hit harder. Many were hit by cascading hardship – affected by the misfortune of those up the chain like landlords and employers.
Contact us for Chicago Divorce Mediation Today
If you are planning or continuing a divorce in the post-COVID world, it’s important to consider your divorce as a post-COVID document. Make sure your terms allow for safe and collaborative life post-divorce, whether you are managing child custody or just separating assets fairly in light of recent changes. Contact Split Simple today to discuss online divorce mediation and management services.
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