Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has impacted divorces in Georgia in multiple ways.
If you file for divorce today, don't expect a hearing right away. When a hearing is scheduled, it most likely will be a video hearing via Zoom or Webex. The Judge will be conduct the hearing from his or her courtroom with courthouse staff present but all lawyers and witnesses appearing solely by video. And many judges have very busy court calendars as a result of the courts being closed for months. So it may take several weeks or months to schedule a hearing in your case.
Video hearings require more advance preparation than in person hearings. Most judges require exhibits to be provided to the court and the other attorney at least three days prior to the hearing. By providing exhibits in advance, you often lose the "Perry Mason" element of surprise when cross-examining a witness.
Coronavirus has also adversely affected employment and income for many people. Furloughs, pay cuts and job losses are fairly common these days. And job losses are often accompanied by the loss of health insurance. This affects child support alimony claims and division of assets. And if one spouse owns his or her business, the value of business will likely be affected by the changes reverberating throughout our economy. Bankruptcies, foreclosures, repossesions and forced sales all have a significant impact on the division of assets and debt. In short, coronavirus has plunged our economy into a recession that is leaving everyone with less money to go around.
The emotional toll of a divorce is often softened when there are plenty of assets to divide. Divorce is more difficult if the parties are under significant financial strain and have more debts than assets. Keep in mind that you are doubling expenses when you divorce while maintaining the same income. In some cases, it may be best to prolong the marriage until one or both parties rebound financially.
Divorce in the age of coronavirus puts additional pressures on parties that didn't exist prior to the worldwide pandemic. Preparing for the new reality is an important first step if you are seeking a divorce.
If you would like more information on the impact of cornonavirus on your Georgia divorce, call us to discuss your options.