Courtrooms across the nation, including in parts of Illinois, have begun improvising over the last few months as a result of Stay-at-Home orders. For instance, Bankruptcy Courts in the Northern District of Illinois are conducting most hearings through Zoom video conferences or telephone calls. Divorce is no different—more and more courtrooms are conducting “virtual divorce proceedings.” But what are the benefits and drawbacks of this new trend, and will it have staying power in divorce and family law? Maybe, maybe not; but it is worth considering as an option depending on a couple’s situation.
Pros of Virtual Divorces
Many people undergoing divorces have found that they actually appreciate virtual divorces for a variety of reasons, such as:
Convenience—The convenience of virtual divorces means they can do it anywhere they are comfortable, such as in their home. This allows them to focus on the divorce itself instead of being worried about all the tangential aspects of the experience. For example, they do not have to stress themselves out about the hustle-and-bustle of driving or parking downtown, or making their way through unfamiliar territory, be it different cities or intimidating courtrooms.
Less Anxiety/Improved Comfort Levels—Being able to divorce virtually means couples at odds do not need to face each other in person. This usually makes for a more comfortable and smooth divorce proceeding, not to mention it can eliminate courtroom drama and theatrics.
Urgent Divorce-Related Issues Stop Getting Delayed—At the beginning of the Illinois Stay-at-Home Order, people mostly kept rescheduling their divorce proceedings. However, now they can address important issues through a video conference or teleconference, provided it is what the judge ordains.
Cons of Virtual Divorces
Of course, virtual divorces may not be for everyone. There are various drawbacks to going through virtual divorces that might have very serious consequences depending on the case, including:
Major Privacy Concerns—If you are sitting beside your lawyer in a courtroom, it is easy to communicate with him or her without anyone else in the courtroom, including the opposing side, hearing what you are saying. You can whisper in each other’s ear, share notes, or even suggest conclusions based on body language. With video and teleconferencing, any attempts at a private consultation with your lawyer are impossible without a recess.
Other Communication Issues—Communication is key to any litigation, especially between a lawyer and the client. A spouse could start venting or rambling during the virtual divorce that could hurt his or her case. The dynamics of virtual divorces may inhibit traditional open communication, leaving both of you susceptible to unfavorable courtroom decisions.
Postponement or Cancellation of Divorce—Perhaps the judge will only hear your case by video or phone. Yet, both you and your spouse believe that your case needs to be heard in a courtroom in order to achieve the fairest results. Therefore, you might put off or even cancel the divorce entirely.
Will Virtual Divorces Last Beyond the “New Normal”?
Based on the aforementioned pros and cons, the best projection is that the future of divorce and family law cases will be a hybrid of virtual and in-person meetings, depending on both the circumstances as well as courtroom preference. For example, simple cases might be held virtually since certain courtrooms have grown accustomed to virtual technology, becoming more efficient by employing its use. Meanwhile, the more complicated cases may be handled in person to make sure that no mistakes are made and the fairest, most equitable determinations are declared.
Contact a DuPage County Divorce Lawyer
The Illinois stay-at-home order might have changed the process for divorces. Many people are choosing to complete the proceedings virtually. Regardless, it is important to still count on the assistance of a Wheaton, IL virtual divorce attorney to help get you through this challenging time. Contact Andrew Cores Family Law Group at 630-871-1002 for a free consultation. We are committed to obtaining a fair divorce settlement for you no matter how the courtroom changes in the future.