Like Everything Else, Divorce During A Pandemic Is Not The Same As It Used To Be
Just like we adjusted and modified our lives during the current pandemic, so too are Colorado Springs divorce cases adapting to COVID-19. The family court system in Colorado, as in every state, is not immune from the impact of the coronavirus. Cases filed before the pandemic may still be pending, and parents still have disputes relating to custody, visitation, support, and other issues. In addition, newly filed divorce cases are currently on the rise.
While the complete shutdowns that marked the early part of the crisis may no longer be with us, El Paso County Court operations are far from normal. Limited resources, backlogged or delayed cases, and handling many matters virtually are all ways divorce lawyers and divorce cases are adapting to COVID-19.
If you are in the middle of a divorce or considering moving forward with one, here is what you need to know about how Colorado Springs divorce cases are adapting to COVID-19.
Even amicable and uncontested divorces may take longer than they did before the pandemic. COVID ground the family law system to a virtual halt back in the spring of 2020, and Colorado Springs area judges are now playing catch-up on all of the matters on their plates, along with a steady stream of newly filed cases.
Because of this, patience is an essential virtue as Pikes Peak area divorce cases are adapting to COVID-19, especially in cases that involve contentious disagreements or require evidentiary hearings to resolve. While phone and video conferences work fine for routine matters, virtual legal proceedings can be complicated, burdensome, and confusing when parties are questioning and cross-examining witnesses, exchanging exhibits, or engaged in arguments.
For these reasons, judges often push back such hearings in the hope that either the parties can resolve issues themselves or that in-person hearings will be available soon.
Parenting and Custody Issues – Is It An Emergency?
Raising kids during this unprecedented time is a challenge for all parents. But divorcing parents in Colorado Springs face even more complexity and stress. With kids at home all or some of the time due to school closures, as well as other disruptions to work schedules, income, or health, adjustments to existing parenting plans or flexibility in arrangements are often necessary. Compounding these practical challenges, parents may also have differing views as to how to protect themselves and their kids from the virus. While one parent may adopt a much more strict approach to things like social distancing, mask-wearing, personal hygiene, and other preventative measures, the other parent may be more lax in their viewpoint.
As with all matters relating to their children, parents should do their best to find common ground and work together to develop schedules and solutions that are fair, workable, and protect their child's health and well-being. While Colorado Springs family court judges will hear true emergencies when raised, they do not want parents using COVID-19 as an excuse to take up valuable court time on matters that the parents should be able to resolve on their own.
One thing no parent should do is unilaterally change parenting, custody, or visitation arrangements over the objections of the other parent.
Virtual Dispute Resolution
With El Paso County courts backlogged, many divorce cases are adapting to COVID-19 by finding negotiated resolutions as to the major issues in a divorce. Divorce mediation offers couples the opportunity to reach agreements that can spare them the cost, conflict, and delays involved in contentious divorce litigation, and is often the best way to move the proceedings forward.
Most Colorado mediators can provide their services remotely, with parties and their lawyers participating via video conference. Technology allows all parties to meet together and separately in breakout sessions with the mediator, just as happens in in-person mediation.
Divorce Cases Are Adapting To COVID-19. So Are We.
Divorce is always difficult. Ending a marriage during a global pandemic is even more so. As a committed and compassionate Colorado Springs divorce attorney, we can help you navigate this challenging time, providing the guidance and representation needed to protect your interests and put you in the best position to move forward to the next chapter of your life. Whether we meet virtually or in-person, you can be confident that we will always keep your well-being and that of your children as our top priority.
If you are considering or facing the prospect of divorce in the Colorado Springs area, we welcome the opportunity to assist you. Please contact our law office today to arrange for your free initial consultation.