Coronavirus has caused many of us to suddenly spend a lot more time with our significant others. For some people, this time together may have made you realize you don’t want to stay together. If you know you want to get divorced, you are probably eager to get started. But you may be concerned that you won’t be able to get divorced under shelter-in-place orders. Since we don’t know how long COVID-19 will last, you might be feeling stuck.
The good news is many people in Georgia will be able to get divorced while social distancing measures are in place. This will be easier for some types of cases than others.
You Can Get an Uncontested Divorce
Coronavirus will have little impact on uncontested cases. Uncontested cases are where you and your spouse agree to all the terms before filing. You then ask the Judge to grant your divorce. Judges can still sign divorce decrees even while the courts practice social distancing. This means your case can be finalized without ever stepping foot in a courtroom.
If you want to get an uncontested divorce, you need to make sure you hire the right attorney. Most attorneys start cases as contested by default. If you and your spouse haven’t agreed to every detail before you meet with the attorney, they likely will consider your case contested. Porchlight does things differently. We believe uncontested divorces are better for couples and families generally. We work with you to help you reach an agreement with your spouse so you can have an uncontested divorce.
You May be Able to Get a Contested Divorce
If your case is contested, you may still be able to get divorced while we are social distancing for coronavirus. A contested case means you and your spouse don’t agree to all the terms before filing. Contested cases can be resolved by agreement or trial, but most cases reach an agreement sometime along the way. An agreement puts you in a similar position to uncontested divorces. Once you agree, you need a judge to sign off but don’t need to go to court.
As social distancing goes on, the courts are incorporating more technology. If sheltering in place lasts a long time, it may be possible to have divorce trials by videoconference. Courts were not well equipped to work remotely when social distancing first started. Now many courts are holding minor or time-sensitive hearings by videoconference. As the courts get more comfortable with the technology, they are likely to start using it for more types of cases. Depending on the court and judge on your case, you may be able to have a divorce trial by videoconference.
Even if you can’t complete your contested divorce while social distancing, you can still make a lot of progress. Most of the work for a divorce case is done outside of the courtroom. If you haven’t filed yet, your attorney can get your case started. If you have filed already, there are things your attorney can do to move your case forward.
Time to Act
Regardless of whether you can finish your divorce right now, it makes sense to start the process. Most people don’t realize that divorces can take anywhere from a few months to over a year. Hopefully, we will not be sheltering in place that long. But if you wait until coronavirus is over to file your case, you’ll still have to wait through the whole process to get divorced. The sooner you start your divorce, the sooner it will be over.
Porchlight is here to help navigate the divorce process under social distancing. If you need help or have questions about how coronavirus will impact your case, give us a call at 678-435-9069.