Divorce and the COVID-19 Pandemic


When considering whether to divorce, life can be an emotional roller coaster. There are so many things that weigh on your mind: Can I afford to live on my own? How would the kids handle a divorce? Should we wait until the kids are older? How long can I stay in this unhappy marriage? And of course some couples are dealing with other concerns on top of those questions, like addiction or mental health concerns; maybe a child with special needs that has added undue stress to the marriage. Now add the burden of a pandemic and “sheltering in place” to that already heavy load. Here are a few ways to help carry that load.

1. Use the time you have to research attorneys.

Most of you reading this have a personal device of some kind, whether it’s a computer, laptop, iPad or tablet, or a smart phone. Find a quiet space and do your research. Most attorneys have extensive websites that share information about themselves and their firms. Use the time to get a feel for those you would be interested in contacting. With most people working remotely during the pandemic, find an attorney who can meet with you by video conference so that you can still “meet” face to face and have a better idea if that attorney is a good fit for you.

2. Use the time you have to research process options.

While Texas courts are still accepting lawsuit filings, many courts around the state are conducting limited business. They are restricting court availability to what are deemed the most urgent cases (such as criminal cases and emergency protective orders) and testing video options for hearings. It will likely be some time before many courts are back to some sense of normalcy. And even once the pandemic is behind us, the courts will be backlogged, catching up from the pandemic delays. Enter settlement options. This is a great opportunity to use the Collaborative Divorce process to negotiate your divorce. With Collaborative Divorce, you and your spouse agree to stay out of the courtroom and work to reach agreements with your attorneys and jointly retained experts. And most Collaborative Divorce professionals have already made the transition to video conferencing, so there’s no delay in getting your case started – or finished.

3. Schedule a consultation with an attorney you think would be a good fit for you.

Having a consultation with an attorney can relieve a lot of stress for you. Fear of the unknown can be a heavy weight to carry around. By scheduling a consultation with an attorney, you can learn about the steps of the legal process ahead of you. You can learn about your rights under the law and dispel any myths you may have heard. Knowledge is power, and by talking to a divorce attorney, you can empower yourself to make the right decision for you when the time is right for you. A consultation is not an obligation to hire an attorney; it’s just an opportunity to learn about your legal rights and determine if a particular lawyer is a good fit for you when you are ready to make a decision.

Rhonda Cleaves is a Collaborative Divorce Attorney representing clients in Collin, Dallas, Denton, and Tarrant Counties. She has been recognized as a Best Lawyer in Collaborative Law and Family Law for five years and is Credentialed by Collaborative Divorce Texas, and was profiled in the April 2020 edition of Collin County Local Profile magazine. For more information, call (972) 403-0333.

Rhonda Cleaves

Rhonda began practicing law in 1995. She left a successful civil trial practice in 2005 to concentrate on family law — specifically, helping families transition to postdivorce life. She now practices exclusively in this area.

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