Navigating a divorce is difficult under the best circumstances; it is an extremely taxing life event, emotionally, physically, and financially. Seeking wise counsel, establishing a strong support system, and taking extreme self-care are critical to managing the stress of divorce. Fast forward to the new era of COVID-19. How do you manage divorce under the additional, unprecedented weight of this global pandemic?
Michigan divorce attorneys are helping confused and anxious clients understand how COVID is affecting Michigan divorces. Here are three things you need to know to help you survive divorce during COVID-19.
Ways COVID-19 Has Affected Divorces in Michigan
1. How is the Divorce Process in Michigan Affected by COVID?
Michigan Family Courts have adjusted policies and procedures to comply with Administrative Orders outlined by the Michigan Supreme Court in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are filing or have a divorce pending in Michigan during Covid-19, the following elements of your case may be impacted:
Filing Court Papers: Many courts now require papers to be filed by email, e-file, mail, or fax and have changed standard filing deadlines. It is highly suggested that you contact your county clerk's office regarding any possible changes that may affect filings.
Serving Documents: Certain documents must be served electronically and must comply with specific formatting:
- PDF format
- The subject line must include the case name and number, the name of the court, and the title of each document being sent.
- Any document e-mailed by 11:59 p.m. is considered served that day. Emails send on Saturday, Sunday, or legal holidays are considered served the following business day.
- You are required to keep a record of sent items until a judgment or final order is entered, and all appeals are completed.
In-person Hearings: In-person family law hearings have been reduced and reserved primarily for emergency motions and orders, including:
Hearings may take place via telephone conferencing or ZOOM. Bear in mind that court hearings must generally be open to the public, and most ZOOM hearings may be watched live on YouTube live streaming.
2. Will COVID-19 Affect Asset Division and Support in My Michigan Divorce
The economic uncertainty brought about by COVID-19 has impacted households across Michigan. Many couples have experienced job loss or income reductions, a devaluation of investments, or a spending down of assets to survive. These changes can significantly affect property division and may result in an adjustment to or shifting of support obligations.
If you or your spouse has been financially impacted during COVID-19, it's essential you speak with your family law attorney immediately. You must understand and financially prepare against the impact of these changes during your divorce.
3. How are My Children and Parenting Time Impacted During COVID-19?
Preserving the bond between parent and child during and after divorce is a priority in Michigan family courts. Most Michigan courts will likely uphold existing orders regarding parenting time and custody arrangements.
Factors that may strain co-parenting arrangements during COVID-19 include:
- School closures
- Altered work arrangements and schedules
- Failure to maintain recommended social distancing and safety guidelines
Parents are encouraged to openly communicate and reach agreements on altered parenting schedules and adherence to safety protocols. Defying a court order and escalating tensions between parties will not serve either parent well and is not in the child's best interest. Seek advice from your Michigan divorce lawyer regarding how best to manage co-parenting changes during COVID-19.
Your Michigan Divorce Attorney During Covid-19
Getting divorced during COVID requires more time, information, and patience than in otherwise normal circumstances. The impact of COVID-19 on your finances, your family, and the legal process can feel overwhelming.
Contact an experienced Michigan divorce attorney today to alleviate the added pressures of divorcing in these uncertain times. Together, you and your divorce lawyer can advance your divorce toward completion and begin to build a better future.