We have all seen the devastation that COVID-19 (the “Coronavirus”) has left it its wake as it tore through Europe over the last two weeks. Entire countries are now quarantined: their hospitals are overflowing, and only the most essential of workers are allowed to leave their homes. The numbers are rising fast in North America now, and many cities and states/provinces have ordered all non-essential businesses to close and workers to stay home until the crisis has passed. COVID-19 has sent the markets into free-fall, and many businesses are struggling since a pandemic was not part of their operational plan.
So – was your family law or financial firm prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic? Did you have strategic operating plans and protocols in place? Are you now working from home – and if so, how is that going?
Some family lawyers are already starting to see an uptick in people calling to inquire or start the divorce process after just two weeks of quarantine or social isolation – and that number is predicted to soar after social isolation ends. “We’ve had an increased amount of calls in the past week from people seeking representation for divorce proceedings, a 50% increase, and I have been hearing the same from my colleagues at other firms,” said NYC divorce lawyer William D. Zabel during a recent interview.
Others have noticed a flare-up in custody cases, with current or former clients urgently asking to reopen cases to change the parenting arrangements when they believe their co-parent is putting their children’s lives at risk. Harrisburg family lawyer Maria Cognetti, the co-creator of the premier national conference on complex child custody issues, is now seeing frequent disputes related to COVID-19 in cases where the child goes back and forth between the co-parents’ homes. “Invariably, each parent has their own idea about what we have been told to do,” she says. “Some interpret it as ‘keep the child inside.’ Some interpret it as ‘keep the child six feet away from others.’ Some, interestingly, wish to interpret it as, ‘the rules don’t count because I am only exposing our child to relatives.’ So many parents believe that what they are doing is right and what the other parent is doing is wrong,” she continues. “It is understandable that the ‘rules’ are being interpreted in many ways. It is also understandable that many parents – especially moms – are pretty freaked out about the virus.”
Get Media Exposure: How Are You Handling the COVID-19 Pandemic
We want to hear from you: family law professionals who are doing business in these most uncertain of times.
We are planning to write as well as curate articles about how the pandemic is affecting divorce-related issues – including child custody and parenting time. We’re looking for 250 to 750-word submissions from family lawyers, child and family therapists, parenting coordinators, and divorce financial professionals.
If you are interested in contributing (or need more information about this opportunity), please send an email to Editors@FamilyLawyerMagazine.com with your contribution or to tell us what you’d like to write about. Your completed submission is due on or before April 20, 2020.
All articles conforming to our Guidelines will appear on this website, and the most thought-provoking/pertinent will also be included in the articles we’re working on now.
How is COVID-19 Affecting Your Practice? Topics to Consider
We’re looking for feedback or articles on any of the following topics:
- If your family law or financial firm was prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic, what were the key elements of your strategic operating plans and protocols?
- Are you now working from home? How are you collaborating with your team? How are you receiving essential paperwork from clients and others?
- How are you communicating with your current and potential clients and referral sources?
- Are you holding virtual client consultations using Skype, Zoom, or some other video conferencing service?
- Are you sending them monthly newsletters or helpful articles?
- What is your best advice for running your business remotely? What are the challenges and opportunities?
- What are your best tips for riding out the pandemic?
- Have you seen an increase or decrease in the number of current and past clients opening or reopening custody cases because of COVID-19 (e.g., they believe the other parent is behaving irresponsibly in the face of the pandemic and they urgently want to change the custody and parenting arrangements)? How are you helping these clients?
- Have you seen an increase or decrease in the number of divorce-related inquiries your office has been receiving? Why do you think this upward or downward trend is occurring? And how you are preparing to hit the ground running when the crisis is over?
Of course, these suggestions are just to prime the pump – you are welcome to choose a topic of your own as long as it pertains to running a successful family law and divorce-related business during this pandemic.
The Covid-19 Pandemic and Your Divorce Business: Quick Survey
We also plan to include feedback from a survey in a feature article. If you don’t have time to write, but would still like to have your say, then take our two-minute survey (below)! If you don’t see the form, or encounter any difficulties in filling it out, please click here instead.