The novel coronavirus is impacting our lives in various ways. Were asked to stay home, were concerned about our health, and were watching a struggling economy. While we try to understand whats happening around us, its hard to imagine something positive coming from this. However, for those in the middle of a divorce, there is a silver lining of COVID-19. As an experienced family law and divorce attorney who practices Collaborative Law, I believe that there are several benefits for families who choose to settle their divorce during this time of uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.

You can utilize negotiation.

In an effort to reduce community transmission of COVID-19, the North Carolina Judicial Branch announced the drastic reduction of operations in courthouses throughout the state. Its a similar situation for court systems nationwide. This means you can still finalize your custody, and distribution of assets without using the court system. As a Collaborative Law Attorney, I use this process as a legal alternative to court proceedings. During a Collaborative divorce, you have an attorney who can give legal advice while providing services in your best interest. Each spouse must have their own attorney as they are separately represented. Since divorce attorneys who use litigation have limited practice right now, your attorney will likely be more interested in settlement. As the courts are closed, this is an efficient time to be able to get family law cases done so spouses can take back their lives and find a new normal.

You can protect your children.

Collaborative Law focuses on communication, conflict resolution, and understanding. If you and your spouse have children, you likely want what is best for them. Choosing settlement allows you and your spouse to communicate through issues in order to achieve a better outcome. Children across North Carolina are spending their days at home since schools are closed and activities are canceled. Given that circumstance, Im sure you and your spouse are communicating more and discussing your children. While youre already talking, you might as well capitalize on that and look into settling your divorce case through resolution. If you choose this method, you will also make a healthier choice for your children in the years to come. This concept allows parents to become co-parents and practice shared parenting, which means divorced parents are equally present, even in separate homes. I recently spoke with psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere about the best way to co-parent during times of crisis. You can listen to that interview on my podcast, Divorce, Healthy!, by clicking here.

You can take advantage of new laws.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on Friday, March 27, 2020. It is meant to provide support to individuals and businesses, while also changing some rules for retirement plans. If you choose to settle your divorce during this time, you can take advantage of these changes. Oftentimes, spouses are faced with a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). A QDRO is a judgment, decree, or order for a retirement plan to pay child support, alimony or marital property rights to a spouse, former spouse, child or other dependent of a participant. This Order is known to get expensive. However, right now, you can avoid attorney fees and penalties around QDRO if you settle your case through resolution. According to financial experts, the CARES Act avoids the 10% penalty from retirement plans and individual retirement accounts for up to $100,000 per year, for the next three years, in certain circumstances. This allows you and your spouse to have easier access to money, which means the settlement will be simpler while saving you time and money.

Please contact me, Ashley-Nicole Russell, at AN|R Law Offices to further discuss the silver lining of COVID-19 and how it can help you divorce healthier. Click here to read more about my practice, method of divorce, and service areas.