Is Divorce an Essential Matter During COVID-19?

New York Supreme Court's Decision on Mary-Kate Olsen's Divorce

Mary-Kate Olsen’s divorce is not considered as essential matter by the New York County Supreme Court during COVID-19. Since mid-March, the New York State Court system has been operating on a limited basis due to the COVID-19 health crisis. This includes limited staff and appearances on only “essential” matters taking place by a virtual appearance before a judge. No new nonessential matters are allowed.

According to reports, celebrity Mary-Kate Olsen recently sought a divorce from her husband of 5 years Olivier Sarkozy. In order to have a New York Court hear her divorce action quickly during the COVID-19 health crisis, Olsen argued her matter was essential. New York County Supreme Court Judge Michal Katz denied Olsen’s emergency essential matter application to the Court.

Mary-Kate Olsen's Divorce Case in New York

Mary-Kate Olsen and her husband Olivier Sarkozy both live in New York City and the New York County Supreme Court is the proper jurisdiction. There were specific facts in her case that cut against an argument that her matter was a true emergency. Olsen’s argument was that if her husband canceled their lease, she would have to vacate their apartment in the middle of the COVID-19 health crisis. Olsen feared that her home and personal property would be lost. She also expressed concern that her husband would “dissipate” or “dispose” of assets. Either marital assets or her personal separate property assets.

Lastly, Olsen’s argued that the grounds for divorce were “irretrievable breakdown for 6 months” as opposed to the more emergent and essential ground of “cruel and inhuman treatment”. To put it another way, Olsen simply argued irreconcilable differences as opposed to an emergency such as physical, emotional abuse, or general violence that may require an order of protection.

Experienced New York Divorce Attorneys

New York divorce lawyers know that there may have been other reasons why Olsen’s argument was not seen as an emergency or an essential matter. Every divorce lawyer in New York also knows the importance of Automatic Orders in divorce cases. Automatic Orders provide for an immediate level of protection for litigants in a New York divorce case.

Upon the filing of a divorce, the Plaintiff is under Automatic Orders of the Court, and upon service of the summons and/or complaint those Automatic Orders apply to the Defendant. Those Automatic Orders are designed to maintain the status quo until both parties can be heard in Court. This includes an order that neither party is to transfer property or dissipate assets.

If you are considering filing for divorce in New York, schedule a consultation with our Westchester County divorce attorney to protect what matters most to you during this time of uncertainty.