- Margaret Zuleger
How’s Your Love Life During COVID?
Many divorce attorneys, like me, think that we are going to see an uptick in divorces after COVID. Actually, that’s what we used to say “after COVID.” But now, it seems like the rush has already started.
If this pandemic is making you seriously consider divorce, you’re not alone. Hopefully this scary thought will be a wake-up call about your marriage. To stay out of my office, I encourage a good faith attempt at marriage counseling.
There is actually a step before marriage counseling: Discernment Counseling. This is a process where you both commit to a set number of sessions with your discernment counselor to decide what to do next: divorce, commit to marriage counseling, or maintain the status quo. Since most people don’t want to live in their status quo anymore, the choice is between starting marriage counseling or starting a divorce.
I hope you choose marriage counseling, but if your choice is to start divorce, I hope you will consider the Collaborative Divorce option. It’s the healthier way to divorce. It tends to be less expensive and more amicable, and who doesn’t want that?!
Collaborative Divorce is a settlement-only divorce process where each partner has his or her own attorney and the couple and their attorneys have settlement meetings (now via Zoom of course) until the couple comes up with their agreements and the attorneys draft the necessary documents. It’s settlement only in that the Collaborative Divorce attorneys CANNOT become the litigators in the case. In other words, if I start the case as one of the collaborative attorneys, and if the collaborative process terminates because someone wants to go to court, then both partners have to get new, litigation attorneys. Now, this does not usually happen. Most collaborative divorces start and end within the collaborative process. And this “disqualification clause” is actually one of the hallmarks of collaborative divorce: the attorneys are different in collaborative because they know that they cannot become the litigation attorneys. No “we’ll see what the judge says” grandstanding. No threats of litigation.
Instead, collaborative attorneys and the other professionals who may be involved (mental health coaches, child specialists and financial neutrals) all model a calm, understanding and respectful professionalism around the mutual goal of finding the settlement agreements that meet as many of the needs and interests of the partners as possible.