Michigan Divorce During the Pandemic: What You Should Know
Divorce is a stressful and emotionally complex process for anyone, and the unprecedented worldwide disaster that is the COVID-19 pandemic has made everything from daily tasks to important life decisions all the more difficult. In order to keep judges, litigators, and other court staff safe from the spread of COVID-19, Michigan courts have put special rules into place concerning the types of cases that need to be seen in person and the types of cases that need to be put temporarily on hold or, in the cases of some courts, seen remotely.
If you’re currently seeking a divorce in Michigan, the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t mean your divorce will be completely halted. You’ll just have to research current stay-at-home orders in your area and work with any outside counsel according to social distancing practices.
How can I move forward with my divorce during the pandemic?
The amount of headway you and your spouse will be able to make on your divorce during this time will greatly depend on your city’s stay-at-home orders. The Michigan Justice System has been releasing updated information concerning the activity of the courts multiple times a month since the stay-at-home orders began in March, and most courts are continuing to limit in-person contact as much as possible to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Courts vs Attorneys
Though any necessary court dates may be affected by stay-at-home orders, most attorney’s offices are still open and functional while following a work-from-home model. Though business hours may be modified, most attorney meetings can be carried out over the phone or even online video call.
Depending on the courts in your area and their temporary changes in function, you may even be able to carry out court dates over the phone. Luckily, not all divorces require time in court if you and your spouse are able to resolve issues and make decisions without the need of a judge’s rule.
If Michigan spouses are able to settle on terms of agreement without a judge present, they can seek an uncontested divorce. Common terms of agreement for divorces include:
- Division of assets
- Child custody and child support
- Division of debt
- And others
When a divorce is uncontested, spouses can finalize their divorce with the help of an attorney or mediator, negating the need for time in court. Since court proceedings aren’t able to transition to a remote format as easily as attorney or mediator meetings, an uncontested divorce is the easiest way to get your divorce finalized sooner rather than later during the pandemic, not to mention the cheapest.
Staying Patient During the Pandemic
Depending on the circumstances of your marriage, you may be seeking a contested divorce that requires a judge to preside. Due to closures, the courts are heavily backed up with cases of different types, many of which require more immediate attention than typical divorce cases. If your marital situation poses an imminent threat to the safety of yourself or your children, you may be able to push your divorce proceedings along faster. However, if this doesn’t apply to you, you may have to wait awhile before the court is able to see your case.
Too much information?
We focus exclusively on family law matters so we are always available to answer your questions and help.