Divorce during Covid-19: Does It Make Sense To Wait?
No matter what stage your divorce is at, the coronavirus is going to have an impact. From those who were contemplating divorce to those who were on the verge of concluding their divorce proceedings, the tidal wave of coronavirus-related changes to lifestyles, impacts on finances, and effects on health have forced everyone to press pause on so many aspects of life. Divorce included.
But does it make sense to wait until the worst of the outbreak is over before getting divorced?
The major problem with coronavirus is that no one knows when life can start getting back to normal. Even in China, where the outbreak first started months ago, there are still major restrictions on people’s lives in terms of what they can do and where they can go.
The fact is, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) to give the disease its full name, is going to be causing major disruption to everyone’s lives for some time to come. Mediators, lawyers, judges, separating couples—all are going to be affected.
Below, I deal with the three main areas you need to think carefully about when considering your divorce in the light of coronavirus.
1. Considerations during the coronavirus outbreak—health issues
Having a strong immune system is vital to helping us all protect ourselves against the COVID-19 virus. Stress is known to significantly diminish the effectiveness of immune systems. And, as you no doubt already know, divorce is one of the most stressful life events any of us can experience. It’s rife with conflict, uncertainty, drastic changes, shifting friendships, and financial pressures. Divorce on its own can leave you feeling lost in a whirlwind. Add the coronavirus uncertainty to the storm, and you’ve got a disturbing cocktail of stressful events that could weaken your immune system at the time you need it most.
So now is a good time to assess your separation and to keep things as amicable as possible between you and your spouse. For the good of yourselves and your family. If your situation is relatively comfortable and peaceful, you will surely be better off maintaining the status quo for now.
If, however, the daily bouts of hurting, blaming, controlling, and feeling trapped are getting too much to bear, moving forward with your divorce could be the best way to reduce stress levels.
2. Financial Divorce Considerations during the coronavirus outbreak—
Every separation is laden with financial pressures and strains. What was once a family unit in one home can suddenly become two homes. The inevitable increased expenses need to be paid out of income levels that stay the same. And now on top of that, the coronavirus pandemic is introducing job insecurity on a scale not seen for decades.
Earnings are being hit hard. Unpaid sick leave is being taken as governments insist on self-isolation. Businesses are losing sales. Staff are being laid off. You, your spouse, or both of you risk financial disaster. Is now the time to still go ahead with your separation? Will you be able to pay rent on one property, let alone two? Can you afford the basics like groceries?
Governments will inevitably offer financial support for employees and businesses, but there’s no guarantee that these will apply to your situation, or be enough to help you meet your financial obligations.
You can choose to minimize your expenditure during your separation. You just need to show some creativity and be prepared to be flexible. Look at other options— like sharing a home with other adults, even parents. Changes need to happen if you’re going to make it through the coronavirus outbreak financially unscathed
Loss of wealth as a result of coronavirus
We’ve all seen the daily reports of huge losses on stock markets caused by coronavirus. You might be one of those to have experienced a substantial drop in the value of your assets, whether they’re stocks or market-based mutual funds. It’s only natural to question whether you should put your divorce on hold until stability returns to the markets.
But as your marital assets are most likely to be divided equally, a market crash doesn’t really give cause to postpone your divorce. You will still have half of the stocks each and when the market recovers, your stocks will increase in value equally.
The cost of divorce
Divorces can cost anything from $300 to $30,000 depending on their complexity and the level of conflict involved. With the coronavirus forcing all of us to reassess our lives, you may be inspired to reassess your approach to your separation and take a more collaborative approach. Divorce Mediation gives you a great way to do that, and it costs a fraction of the price of a lawyer-driven divorce—often just 10% to 25% of what you’ll pay lawyers.
Loss of income by you or your spouse as a result of coronavirus will affect the amount of child support that’s payable. Your contribution should be adjusted to reflect how much you are able to pay during these extraordinary times.
If one or both of you loses income as a result of the outbreak, levels of spousal support will need to be renegotiated to reflect the change of circumstances.
Taking a more collaborative approach to your separation will reduce stress levels as you and your spouse will be working together to find mutual agreement, and not be at each other’s throats trying to score points.
In short, a mediated divorce could be the best way to separate for couples who can foresee economic hardships on the horizon as a result of coronavirus.
3. Getting divorced during the coronavirus outbreak—settlement issues
With severe restriction of movement and closures of public areas resulting from the coronavirus outbreak, there are practical considerations to take into account. Such as will courts be open to hear divorce cases?
As of March 2020, many judges and court staff are being advised and sometimes forced to work remotely. The knock-on effect is the postponement of cases requiring oral argument in a courtroom for 2 to 4 months.
Thankfully, this is unlikely to affect the 95% of separating couples who submit their filing paperwork after having reached a settlement thanks to their lawyers or a mediator. These types of separation will still be processed through the family court system.
By working remotely, many lawyers and mediators will be offering their services via teleconferences and video conferencing. Some might be keeping their office open, depending on the severity of the coronavirus outbreak or the restrictions in their area. If you are invited to an office, be sure to check that their cleaning and disinfecting procedures are of the highest standard.
So, do you wait or go ahead with your divorce?
The true answer lies in your personal situation. Hopefully, this article has given you food for thought and shown you the best way forward to suit your financial and family situation.
Here at Divorce The Smartway, we’re doing our bit to help flatten the curve of coronavirus. Right now, face-to-face interactions and collaborations aren’t feasible as they pose a health risk to everyone. Working remotely is the best available alternative, and they’re something our mediators have been doing successfully for many years with clients based all over the world.
Our suite of Zoho Assist remote access applications enable us to offer a range of web and mobile apps that help us communicate, collaborate, and be productive wherever we are and wherever you are.
To benefit, you don’t need to install anything onto your device. We can work with you via your smartphone, laptop, tablet, or desktop computer.
So, throughout the coronavirus crisis, Divorce the Smartway will be here to remotely help new and existing mediation clients navigate their separation until the threat passes. To contact us call 1.855.731.3500
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Yes, Naked Divorce Filer is an online questionnaire. But our team will always be here to help if you need it at any stage during the process. You will be assigned a document specialist you are free to call or email anytime.
Hi, my name is Ken Maynard.
I am a family court survivor, Family Mediator and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA). For 10 years now I have been helping separating couples find their Soft Landing. I look forward to working you.
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