Divorcing in the Face of Economic Uncertainty When Court Is Not An Option

In this Wealth Matters Column in the New York Times, I talked about options that are available to couples who want to divorce while the courts are closed or backlogged during the coronavirus pandemic. The columnist, Paul Sullivan, was particularly interested in what options were available if people were negotiating child and spousal support agreements during this time when their financial situation may be precarious.

This was a great question because many couples may know that their marriage is over but they don’t know how they can divorce if there are economic uncertainties. My best advice to these couples is to do everything you can to stay out of court so that you can negotiate an agreement that is flexible enough to address financial changes in the future. For example:

1. If you are not working now, we can draft the child support or spousal agreement to state what will happen if you return to work in the future.

2. If you are employed now, but in a precarious employment situation, the agreement can make it clear how support will be modified if you lose your job.

3. If you normally have child-related expenses such as childcare, extracurricular activities and summer camp that are not being incurred now because of the shutdown, but you know those expenses will be incurred again in the future, the agreement can address that too.   

The courts are beginning to reopen, but there will be a huge backlog of cases for many months to come. Maybe that’s a good thing if it makes divorcing couples think twice about asking a judge to make decisions for their families. These uncertain times demand that divorcing couples work together to reach agreements that make economic sense now as well as in the future. Flexibility, creativity and consideration are what is needed now. While these aspects of negotiation are the hallmarks of the mediation and collaborative divorce, they are rarely seen in litigated divorces. I like to say that “Court should be the last resort for your divorce.” That has never been truer than now.   

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If you’re looking for a #NoCourtDivorce that keeps conflict at a minimum and takes a flexible approach to divorce that makes economic sense, contact Vacca Family Law Group to discuss Mediation and Collaborative Divorce and find out which no-court process makes the most sense for you.