Written by Leslie A. Soley
There is no question that COVID-19 shutdowns have taken their toll on our lives over the past year. Businesses are closing at alarming rates, virtual working and learning continues to be the norm, and home life has drastically changed. It is no surprise that these extreme changes, compounded by the stress of a deadly pandemic, are disrupting both family life and marriages.
Spouses are both home around the clock. The stress of homeschooling and the burdens of taking care of family have only increased. Unemployment and income losses add to the ever-growing list of things to worry about. Fundamental personal differences that may have been easy to ignore or escape previously are now pervasive. There are so many factors at play during this time that can accelerate a couple’s decision to end their marriage.
According to the “National Law Review,” the past year has seen a 34% surge in couples interested in dissolving their marriages. Legal Templates also notes that many more couples with young children are seeking divorce, which makes things more complicated with custody matters. The legal community is bracing for a huge increase in separations once lockdowns are fully lifted, and many of them are currently underway.
If you are considering divorce during this time, you are clearly not alone. If the idea of dealing with the court system and the typical expenses of the traditional process does not appeal to you however, you’re also not alone. Mediation is an avenue for obtaining a divorce quickly, safely, confidentially, and cost effectively, especially during Covid-19.
Mediation is a legal method that offers you the ability to work through your divorce with the help of a neutral third party, outside of a courtroom. If you decide to pursue this route, both you and your spouse will hire attorneys and a mediator will facilitate the process and conversation.
Both parties will identify issues they would like to discuss, which the mediator will include in the agenda. Then in a confidential, safe proceeding, you’ll be able to brainstorm solutions and work through answers in a constructive way. Financial professionals and child specialists can be included in the process to help resolve issues surrounding custody and division and liability and assets. In the end, an agreement is reached, leaving many divorcing couples feeling empowered by mediation and more satisfied with the result.
It’s cost effective.
Many people have been hit hard financially during this time, and moving on from a marriage can be expensive. Between the paperwork and time it takes to plan for court proceedings, legal hours can add up fast when going the traditional route. However, divorce through mediation is almost always less costly than proceeding through the court system. Your mediator will still need time to prepare, but the agenda in mediation helps focus the issues and streamline the process. Plus, parties involved often end up having preferable financial agreements with their ex-spouse after mediation.
It’s on your schedule.
The scheduling of the courts is both slow and unpredictable during this time. By contrast, you’re able to schedule your mediation at the discretion of the parties involved. This allows your divorce to proceed swiftly and efficiently.
It’s safe and secure.
Without the authority over the venue of typical divorce proceedings, social distancing and proper Covid-19 protocols are not guaranteed. In mediation, the divorcing parties are able to choose a location, allowing for a safer and potentially familiar environment.
It’s less stressful.
At the end of the day, facing your divorcing spouse in a public court setting is another extremely stressful event to add to the list of the past year’s hardships. Not only does mediation make for a much less emotionally and financially burdensome process, it also gives you more control and a better chance to achieve your desired outcomes in the divorce.
Deciding to divorce is never easy, especially against the backdrop of a global pandemic. I’ve seen firsthand the effects of COVID-19 on my clients and their relationships that are facing new phases. If you do make the difficult choice to end your marriage during this time, I highly recommend pursuing mediation with an experienced family law attorney at your side.
Leslie A. Soley is a family law attorney and mediator, offering non-litigation and/or alternative dispute resolution services along with traditional legal services. With a compassionate and dedicated desire to help her clients in what is often the most difficult time in their life, Leslie can relate to her clients in a manner that instills trust and inspires confidence. An accomplished lawyer, Leslie obtained her degrees with several honors, and practiced at one of the Valley’s largest law firms before becoming partner at Judith Leslie Soley Inc 2009. She is proud to carry on the legacy started by her mother, Judith Leslie Soley, leading a small but mighty team and providing the best possible representation, to every client who comes through her doors. When she’s not in the courtroom or in meetings, you can find Leslie spending time with her family on the golf course or at the lake.