As states begin to emerge from months of lockdown resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, will there be an increase in divorce filings? This question is of particular interest in Texas, where state and local officials have started the process of easing quarantine restrictions. However, with much uncertainty as to the pandemic in the months ahead, the answer to this question remains unclear at the moment. So, should a potential increase in divorce filings effect your decision-making regarding your own divorce? Perhaps, an even more important consideration is not how many divorces there will be, but rather how filing for divorce changed since the pandemic began.
There are things to consider for those navigating this difficult decision in such a difficult time. First, it is important to be aware that the courts are still setting hearings, accepting motions, and granting divorces. Some courts have implemented social distancing protocols for in-person hearings, while some are still conducting many hearings by Zoom teleconference. While the courts are still up and running, it is important to be aware that a hearing date or trial date could be delayed as courts navigate the uncertainty and make efforts to hear the most pressing matters first.
As we have seen from the high-profile Mary Kate Olsen divorce in the news recently, courts are not necessarily expediting divorce proceedings, no matter the litigant. In that case, the New York court denied Olsen’s attempt to file for an “emergency divorce” because the court deemed it not essential. Additionally, the Seventh Emergency Order Regarding the COVID-19 State of Disaster issued by the Supreme Court of Texas on May 26 (“Seventh Emergency Order”) makes clear that court deadlines that were set for this upcoming summer can be extended. Thus, one must consider that it is more likely that proceedings would be delayed rather than expedited.
An equally important consideration for those deciding whether or not to file for divorce is the financial implications. The economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have been widespread. To protect one’s financial interests must effectively, moving forward with a divorce during this time requires a different approach than a divorce filed prior to the pandemic. The financial uncertainty of the moment must be weighed.
The decision to file for divorce is not easy and such a decision is made even more difficult by the circumstances surrounding the pandemic and quarantine measures that have been implemented. However, those seeking to move forward with filing for divorce have options on how best to proceed. For questions regarding how best to approach filing for divorce and advice for navigating divorce proceedings during the pandemic, please feel free to contact McClure Law Group at 214-692-8200.