Will the Pandemic Result in More Amicable Divorces?
Everyone knows at least one divorce horror story. It may involve a spouse who hid or stole marital assets or who quit a job to avoid paying alimony. Too often, divorcing couples seem to write off the love and respect they once held for each other and behave as if they are complete strangers or sworn enemies. Parents turn on each other and ask their kids to pick sides, and relationships can be permanently severed. But just as the COVID-19 pandemic has created a new normal for society at large, it might be reshaping the ways couples approach divorce.
One COVID-related change that is evident is the increased popularity of alternative dispute resolution options like mediation. In normal circumstances, divorcing couples who disagree on everything may be quick to resort to divorce litigation. But court closures during the pandemic created a case backlog that has added months or more than a year to the amount of time a couple must wait to see a judge after filing for divorce.
Mediation generally offers faster solutions at lower costs than litigation. Between March 2020 and March 2021, the non-profit mediation service FamilyKind saw a 100 percent increase in requests for mediation, signaling how popular this method has become. For the mediation process to work, both spouses must lay all cards on the table and proceed with full honesty and willingness to compromise. Spouses may have serious disagreements, but only by making realistic concessions will they be able to reach settlements and resolve the divorce expediently. If mediation fails, a couple must get back in line for litigation, delaying the divorce even further.
Another COVID-related development is the increased use of private judges for divorce. A divorcing couple can get around the long wait for a court hearing by hiring an independent professional. Both spouses must agree on the selection of the judge and the terms of payment. They must also agree that the judge’s rulings are legally binding. By taking a more active role in the divorce process and making the mutual agreement to hire a private judge, divorcing spouses may find more common ground and less reason for hostility.
The experienced divorce lawyers at Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C. in Melville, New York can help you understand alternative options to divorce litigation and whether they may be right for you. To schedule your free initial consultation with a member of our qualified staff, call 1.631.479.3839 or contact us online.