The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic disruptions have been difficult for individuals who were “almost divorced.” Some had their final hearings continued when courts greatly restricted the number and kind of legal matters that could proceed. Others were in serious negotiations, or perhaps even had mediation planned and canceled. Still more were awaiting a hearing that will still proceed in an upcoming month, but parts of the preparation were already complete.
But COVID didn’t just delay trials. It changed the economy. Many lost their jobs, while others took pay cuts, or at least see the writing on the wall that bonuses will not be forthcoming. Businesses that were doing well were shuttered, and some may not ever reopen. The housing market, unpredictable in the best of circumstances, is not showing consistent trends month to month or neighborhood to neighborhood. And the stock market – well, whatever investments were worth last week will be different by next week, perhaps significantly so.
Here’s a checklist to review to be sure your case is resolved using the best information available.
- > Bank statements, financial statements, stocks, and investments, including retirements – have you provided your lawyer with the most recent statements? Can you go online to update information between statement periods, especially if they are otherwise quarterly?
- > Real estate appraisals – is an updated appraisal necessary, or value “close enough” to stand with the work already done?
- > Business appraisals – these pose the same questions as real property appraisals, except that the work is more expensive to conduct and update.
- > Employment and salaries – have any changes?
- > Assets used in substitution for income interruptions – have savings been depleted? For that matter, have credit card balances raised markedly?
Now, the problem is evident – changes keep coming. There is political turmoil that is affecting valuations as well. Valuations that require expert testimony will ordinarily obligate a litigant to use information that is, at a minimum, about 90 days old. Other valuations tend to be about a month old. And in these times, a lot can change in a month.
Be sure to talk to your lawyer about tools like alternate valuation dates, expert designation extensions, discovery updates, and stipulations that can ease some of the stress relating to these ever-changing times.