MIAMI (CBSMiami) - As South Florida struggles with the daily grind that is the coronavirus pandemic there is an increase in the number of couples seeking a divorce.
Natalie Lemos, an attorney specializing in marital and family law, says, "We are used to hunkering down. We have hurricanes coming our way and divorce lawyers always joke that following that period when people are in so close to each other we get a lot more calls."
Unlike hurricanes, the coronavirus is a silent storm that never seems to go away. Isolation, working from home, kids, school issues, job insecurity, or no job at all. All that sometimes accompanied by substance abuse and it can take a toll on a family.
"People realize what was tolerable when they could go to work and interact with friends becomes really intolerable when confined in space with a person they have significant issues with," says Lemos.
About three weeks after stay-at-home orders went into effect, the calls started coming into law offices. Yet, courts were closed and divorce proceedings as with all court proceedings ground to a halt.
But thanks to technology, "cases are moving, the process is moving forward and people are getting divorced," said Lemos.
Mock court hearings are held designed to demonstrate to lawyers and judges how the Zoom process works. Now, ramping up in Miami-Dade County, with a surprising benefit for divorce seekers.
"Having a Zoom hearing is going to result in a reduction in attorney fees. They will have to pay when they go through the divorce and to be able to have the court system do final judgment. For example, by Zoom on affidavit will facilitate a much smoother transaction that we have had up to now," adds Lemos.
Bottom line, no trips to the courthouse. There is money-saving in divorce online. Sad but easier "to split the blanket." It is another "new normal."
Support payments because of lost income is now an issue. The same can be said about child time-sharing, interrupted due to coronavirus. All can quickly involve lawyers.
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