Tips for Working with Your Divorce Lawyer During the COVID-19 Pandemic
July 12, 2020
Going through a divorce can make you feel like you are all alone in the world, and if you are separated from your spouse, then social distancing to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 can be doubly isolating. If you are working from home, you might thrive on the lack of interruptions from co-workers or from not having to spend time sitting in traffic during your commute, but you probably miss the social interaction. Being able to meet with your divorce lawyer face-to-face can be a comfort, but in the age of COVID-19, it is a luxury none of us can afford. If you filed for divorce in 2020, then social distancing is most likely here to stay until after your divorce is finalized. If you have just made the decision to divorce, then the family law attorneys at Iwanyshyn & Associates in Greater Pittsburgh will do everything possible to make the process of pandemic-era divorce painless.
What Are Business Hours, Now That Everyone Works from Home?
In the years leading up to the pandemic shutdown, people in many industries felt like they were on duty for work 24 hours a day, but lawyers have felt that way for decades. Cell phone use was widespread among lawyers long before the rest of the population started buying cell phones. During the pandemic, now that divorce lawyers are working from home full time (as opposed to working from home full time and working from the office full time), they can work most efficiently if they set aside certain times of the day for returning phone calls and answering emails. Outside of those hours, they can work on their other tasks without interruption or concentrate on their non-lawyering responsibilities, such as childcare.
When you establish a working relationship with a divorce lawyer during the COVID-19 pandemic, ask your lawyer which hours during the week he usually devotes to phone calls and email. This way, you will not have to worry that your lawyer did not see your email. It can also help you set deadlines for when you write the email that you have been meaning to write to your lawyer.
Dealing with Law Firm Staff During the Pandemic
You are working remotely during the pandemic, and so is your divorce lawyer. Law firm staff, such as receptionists and administrative assistants, are also working remotely. If you mean to communicate with a staff member besides your lawyer, and you also want your lawyer to know the information, such as if you are trying to arrange a time for a Zoom meeting, you should include both the lawyer and the administrative assistant on the same email. When everyone is working remotely, you can’t assume that the lawyer and the administrative assistant will see each other in the hallway and communicate the information that you sent to one of them.
It is also a good idea to find out the hours when the administrative assistant is available to answer phone calls and email, since he or she is also working from home. The administrative assistant might also be in a different time zone from you and your lawyer.
Maintaining Confidentiality While Communicating Electronically with Your Lawyer
Confidentiality is an important part of the professional relationship between clients and their lawyers; in most cases, your lawyer is required to keep your conversations and correspondence confidential even after your case has finished and you are no longer using the lawyer’s services. Internet privacy is a challenging issue for many businesses that have had to move all their operations online during the pandemic, and law firms are no exception. Your lawyer is following federal and state guidelines about keeping your information secure, but there are also some best practices you can follow to protect your online privacy. For example, you should use VPNs when communicating with your lawyer, and if you send her email attachments, you should require a password or two-factor authentication for her to open them. Don’t have phone conversations with your lawyer when Amazon Alexa or other smart devices can eavesdrop or record you.
Virtual Court Appearances
Pennsylvania family courts have moved depositions, hearings, and trials online, and Zoom is the usual method of conducting them. The judge will probably ask you to show a photo ID to confirm your identity at the beginning of a virtual court appearance. You should dress professionally for a virtual court appearance, just like you would if you were going to court in person.
Iwanyshyn & Associates Makes the Virtual Divorce Process Stress-Free
The family law attorneys at Iwanyshyn & Associates will help you navigate the divorce process now that the family courts are operating online. Contact Iwanyshyn & Associates in Greater Pittsburgh & Western PA for help with a divorce or other family law case during the COVID-19 pandemic. 412.414.1570