The following blog posts originally appeared on the Quaid Farish, LLC. Website. As the inherent nature of the Collaborative Divorce process makes it even more suitable for divorcing parties in the COVID-19 world, CDT felt it critical to amplify the reasons.
The social responsibility of sheltering in place and self-quarantining has changed much of our day to day living. In the legal world, courts initially were closed and then closed, except to emergency situations limited to physical harm to children and spouses/partners. Finally, through the use of Zoom and other video platforms, court became virtually open, but in most cases only to hear the foregoing emergency cases, truncated contested matters and agreed orders. Needless to say, divorces in the litigation realm have come to an effective standstill. Critical court dates have been lost and not likely to be reset for months. Delay is inevitable.
Collaborative Divorces have been able to proceed. A Collaborative Divorce does not rely on exhibits, heavily contested evidentiary hearings and argument (all of which are not as effective for presentation in a video conference). A Collaborative Divorce proceeds through the use of joint meetings, team meetings and off-line meetings. There is a transparent exchange of documents and evidence. Positions are not argued but rather goals and interests are explored, options are generated and evaluated leading to achieving a durable resolution. The natural progression of a collaborative divorce through these types of meetings is extremely conducive to video conferencing, and some traditionally are even accomplished via telephone conference. Collaborative Divorces have not come to a halt. They are continuing with only minor adjustments. The timetable for resolution is still controlled by the participants, not the availability or unavailability of the Court. Once courts effectively reopen, expectations are that they will become even more overwhelmed as a result of the expected rise in new divorce filings caused by relationships that fail under the stress of the COVID- 19 quarantines and economic damage.