With the government issuing stay-at-home orders in Denver and many surrounding areas due to the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple government buildings are closed. This closure includes courts that handle divorce proceedings. What do you do if you were in the middle of a divorce or are considering filing for divorce during this crisis?
Has COVID-19 Changed the Status of Divorce Hearings in Colorado?
Most Colorado District Courts have temporarily postponed all in-person divorce hearings. If you already started your divorce proceeding, you might have received a note from the court with your new hearing date or specific temporary orders. For the most urgent matters, such as protection orders and some emergency orders regarding children, courts are working to schedule hearings over the phone.
However, many courts are waiting to reschedule hearings until they have a better sense of when government buildings will reopen. A knowledgeable divorce attorney can advise you on the status of your divorce case, give you information on temporary orders, recommend the next steps, and if needed, help expedite vital protection orders if your safety is threatened.
How Can I Advance My Divorce Proceeding During the COVID-19 Lockdown?
Most orders that the court issued in your divorce case before the coronavirus lockdown started, including procedural orders and temporary support orders, will remain in effect until they are changed by the court.
It’s critical to do all you can to meet the court’s deadlines and follow their orders, despite the lockdown. If the court ordered you to submit specific documentation or file periodic status reports, you are still legally required to follow these timelines. For example, if the court gave you and your spouse 30 days to complete an online parenting class and submit certificates of completion to the court, then you must still complete these orders on time.
Additionally, you or your attorney can continue to collect, assemble, and submit much of the documentation needed for your divorce proceeding over the phone, through the mail, or online. These documents might include things like:
- A budget worksheet to show how much money you need to cover expenses
- Proof of your income and your spouse’s income, such as pay stubs, tax returns, check ledgers, or financial statements
- A detailed list of any property or assets you hold individually or with your spouse, like homes, cars, furniture, jewelry, computer equipment, household goods, real estate properties, or other investments, along with any valuation documents you have for these items
- Lists of anything each spouse owned before the marriage or acquired as a gift or inheritance during the marriage
- Deeds, titles, or other proof of ownership for assets
- Documentation for any debts, including mortgages, credit card statements, medical bills, or student loans
- Evidence of any legal agreements, such as a prenup or will
- Policy documents for any type of insurance you or your spouse hold, including health, life, homeowner’s, or car insurance
- Information on retirement or pension plans, such as when the asset was acquired and recent statements
- Documentation for any businesses you own separately or together, including bank ledgers, lists of expenses and profits, or an account of inventory
What Happens to My Kids If My Divorce Hearing is Delayed During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
If the court issued a temporary order in your divorce proceeding for child custody or support before the lockdown, you still must follow these orders. This includes any orders on parenting time or support payments.
The government orders for COVID-19 precautions in Denver and surrounding areas still allow people to leave their homes for essential errands, including travel necessary to comply with court orders. This means that if the judge ordered you and your spouse to share custody of your children, then you must continue to exchange the children as outlined in your parenting time orders.
Additionally, if the court ordered you to pay child support, you must continue to pay support until the court modifies your order or your spouse agrees to a modification in writing and filed with the court. Even if you lose your job or have to work less because of coronavirus, then you must do all you can to make payments.
However, it’s also critical to maintain open and honest communication with your spouse during this crisis and work together towards the best possible outcome for your children. This can be difficult when you’re going through a divorce, but in the long run, it can help your case before the court. If you treat your spouse with understanding and generosity during this stressful time, it can help the judge see that you are doing everything possible to protect your children’s best interest.
Do I Need a Lawyer During This Uncertain Time?
At this time, some Colorado courts are recommending that any “pro se” litigants, which means people who do not have a lawyer and are representing themselves, should consider hiring an attorney to help with their divorce proceeding. This is because if you have an attorney, it is more likely the Court will be able to enter a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage (an order finalizing your divorce) via the Court’s online filing system. If you do not have an attorney, you have to personally appear in court for it to enter the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage and right now, that is not possible.
If you are “pro se,” you can check your case’s status for a fee online. However, the information you find on this site might be difficult to understand if you don’t have knowledge of Colorado’s laws and procedures.
An experienced Denver divorce attorney can help you understand how the current COVID-19 lockdown impacts your case. They can also help make sure you are aware of any court orders that exist in your case and help you do all you can to follow these orders.
Contact Us Today
If you are considering a divorce or you’re in the middle of a divorce proceeding, Halligan LLC is here to help. We are available to take on new clients, and we’re providing clients with the same excellent service you expect from us while we observe the government’s COVID-19 restrictions.
Our compassionate and hardworking family law team is making sure we have all the technology necessary to answer your questions, advise you on your case status, and continue to push your case forward. We are prepared to give you the information and counsel you need to make the best decisions for you and your family.
Halligan LLC is available for remote consultations through video conferencing, and you can reach us anytime over the phone or email. Contact us today at (720) 608-2361 or online to set up a confidential consultation.