COVID-19, Coronavirus, Pandemic……oh my! What do I do now?

By Deborah Dilman

We’ve all been dealing with the coronavirus pandemic since the beginning of March. After the rush for toilet paper, other paper products, and food staples, we have now moved into life at home, practicing social distancing and generally staying inside. We now have a lot of time to ask ourselves life questions like, “What in the world happens now with my separation and divorce?”

We are in the middle of a shutdown through the end of April, and maybe even longer. Kids are out of school until at least May 15th. Courts are closed at least until May 1st and likely until June 1st. Who knows how long it will take after that to catch up on missed court dates and schedule new matters – it could be many more months before your case is heard. Many of you cannot go to work, and many of you have lost jobs. Who knows when or how we will recover financially. These are truly scary times.

There are so many things out of our control right now. But you still can take control of your legal matters regarding your separation and divorce. Many law firms, including mine, can conduct business remotely – either through the Zoom platform or a telephone conference. And, surprisingly, we still have other options available to help you settle your matters. Sure, it is a scary time; but this might be the best time to attempt to gain some control and close those chapters that have been haunting you for months or years.

Research tells us that the best way to resolve your issue is by mutual agreement with your spouse. If you believe you and your spouse are indeed the best people to resolve your case – regardless of how unreasonable you may think he/she is being – then mediation remains an excellent option for you.

Myself and other mediators have already been using the Zoom platform for mediation purposes. Proper privacy restrictions have been implemented, making Zoom a great platform to attempt to resolve issues while giving you control over the resolution. You and your attorney will be in one virtual room, while your spouse and their attorney will be in another. If we collectively choose to, we can also all be in the same virtual room working through the issues you and your spouse want to resolve.

You can use this platform to tackle one issue at a time, and perhaps schedule a half-day session at first. This allows you to test the waters with this virtual approach. If you like it, which I think you will, then you can return to tackle another issue, or all the remaining issues. The flexibility is there for you.

Again, research tells us that parties who resolve matters by mutual agreement, rather than having someone call balls and strikes. It is not easy, and some people can’t help but be unreasonable and unrealistic, but you can choose to be the reasonable person and help the other spouse think about proposals and get this all behind you. And, if you have children, feel of the life skills you are demonstrating for them if you and your spouse can use your skills to resolve things rather than continuing to remain in the world of unknowns while we wait for the pandemic to pass.

If you have any questions, give Deborah Dilman, a certified family financial mediator and attorney with Marcellino & Tyson, a call to discuss your situation or to schedule your mediation.