SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Divorce attorneys are predicting a surge in cases nationwide once the stay-at-home order is lifted.
"If your marriage isn't in a great place, it might be you're pouring gasoline on a fire by being around each other 24/7," said divorce attorney Jason Hopper.
He's part of the law firm, Cordell & Cordell, a national law firm with an office in San Diego. He said they've been getting so many calls, they had to add extra hours.
"In the past three weeks, we've averaged about 500 new consultations each week," said Hopper.
He said that's twice the number of calls compared to this same time last year.
Right now the courts in San Diego County are only accepting emergency filings. So for now, some spouses are getting all of their paperwork ready to file once the courts re-open.
"We hear that absence can make the heart grow fonder," said Hopper. "What we've found is the opposite can be true when we have couples spending a lot more time together than in years prior. For a lot of folks, they're getting a preview of what retirement may look like, and unfortunately for a lot of folks they're finding they don't really like it."
Hopper said some of the calls they're getting are from wealthy clients who held off on divorce before and are now considering going through with it because of the current economic climate.
"For a lot of cases, the date of separation or date of filing is what's going to control the ultimate property division," said Hopper. "So it may lead to a lower settlement."
For those who are choosing to move forward with divorce, Hopper had this advice: "What we're telling a lot of prospective clients is, there's probably going to be a backlog. If this is something you need to do, maybe it makes sense to get ahead of the tidal wave of litigation that might be coming."
Besides getting calls about divorce, Hopper said they're also getting a lot of calls about custody disputes.
He said one parent may not want to follow custody orders, using the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason. He said in some situations law enforcement has had to intervene.
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