September 15, 2020 – The pandemic has put immense stress on businesses, mental health on an individual level, and of course on families and couples. With the outbreak of the Coronavirus implementing lockdown orders in March, couples were forced to face a multitude of new challenges. While additional time at home might have led some couples to rekindle affection, it forced a light on incompatibility on others, and motivated those families who are apart to come together. We reached out to top Lawyers on client trends following Covid-19.
Sean Schaefer – Edmonton, Alberta, Canada – is a Lawyer from TC Family Law. They are a divorce and family law boutique which services Edmonton and Northern Alberta. Sean is focused on creative solutions and working together with counsel and clients to navigate divorce smoothly. Sean shares that there has been a rise in divorces since Covid-19.
“There has definitely been an uptick in divorces as COVID-19 has progressed. That being said, this has balanced by more clients calling to feel out counsel to see if they can get a deal or to ensure that we are the right fit. I have also seen a move to more progressive and collaborative approaches, which has been a welcomed shift from our typical litigation first divorces.
Elizabeth Christy Taylor – Vancouver, WA – is the managing attorney at Elizabeth Christy Law Firm, a mid-sized law firm in Portland, Oregon and Southwest Washington specializing in all areas of family law. Elizabeth mentions that she has observed a shift in clients’ approach to divorces.
“Sometimes in divorces, we see parties get overly focused on petty issues, sentimental personal property, and revenge over emotional issues. I’ve noticed that my clients are now more interested in a reasonable approach and a more streamlined process.” Elizabeth then adds the adjustments made due to the pandemic within the office. “The upside to our “new normal” is the increase in flexibility with how we handle clients and court appearances. The legal industry was historically very rigid and antiquated with procedure. Now, I am regularly having hearings, mediation, and arbitration via videoconference.”
Wayne Barkauskas – Calgary, Alberta, Canada – is a Lawyer, mediator, arbitrator, and parenting coordinator at Wise Scheible Barkauskas Law Firm, and has been practicing family law for almost 30 years. They practice family law exclusively and are one of the largest boutique family law firms in Alberta. They possess lawyers, mediators, arbitrators, and parenting coordinators within the firm and can address virtually any family law issue for a wide range of clients. Wayne shares how they have paid more attention to the psychological and emotional front of clients during cases since Covid-19.
“We must empathize with the emotional aspects of our client’s legal issues, as well as address solutions to the legal issues. Both have been made even more challenging by Covid. The psychological aspect of dealing with the health crisis has been well documented by experts. This compounds the already difficult emotional circumstances of our clients who are going through separation and divorce. The legal issues become more complex as well because of resulting financial stresses, as well as parenting and childcare schedule disruptions among other issues. To make matters even more difficult, one tool to help address this legal crisis; the courts, have been partially or completely shut down as a result of Covid leaving fewer traditional solutions available.”
Ray Alexander – Vancouver, WA – is the owner and sole proprietor of Alexander Law Firm, located in Vancouver, Washington, and serves clients nationwide. 100% of their law practice is devoted to affordable family-based immigration, including permanent residency, naturalization, fiance visas, and spouse, or other family immigrant visas. Ray shares that clients have been desperate to unite with family during the pandemic.
“A new trend I have seen from my clients is a desire to reunite with their family members in the most expedient way possible, due to the uncertainties in time frames created by the pandemic. This has included submitting requests for the expediting of petition approvals and scheduling of interviews, or where feasible seeking to adjust status in the U.S. rather than opting for the longer route of a marriage visa, in which foreign embassy operations have proven to be less predictable.”
It is an unprecedented time, creating turbulence in all areas of life as we shift into the “new normal”. Legal systems have had to adapt, creating novel solutions, steering away from traditional rigid procedures. As for personal lives at home, with the combination of quarantine life, unemployment rates, wavering finances, mental health strains, and childcare, lawyers are seeing a strain on families, with a prediction of increased divorce rates.