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Quarantine can present unique challenges to divorce

By the time you decide to dissolve your marriage, you may want to get through the divorce process as quickly as possible. Although considerations such as determining the extent of your marital property, establishing child support arrangements and reaching a favorable settlement can take time, the present health crisis could complicate matters.

For many couples, business closures and distance learning have added to the mounting stress of a relationship that has run its course. Before ending your marriage during quarantine, you may want to consider how the current pandemic might affect your decision.

The mere fact that someone has filed for divorce does not require the parties to separate. While many divorcing couples choose to live separately while the divorce case is going on - physically living separate is not mandatory. As well, if you have not already separated the logistical process of finding alternate living quarters and moving may be more cumbersome, if it is even possible.

The financial uncertainties created by the pandemic may also complicate the financial issues in a divorce case. For example:

  • Job losses or employment cutbacks may affect available cash flow, at least in the near term and possibly longer.
  • The value of your IRAs, 401ks and non-retirement investments may have dropped and may continue to fluctuate until the market stabilizes again.
  • The value of businesses and professional practices of all kinds may be more difficult to determine since the long-term effects cannot be foreseen.
  • A spouse who has been out of the workforce during the marriage may face increased challenges in finding employment due to the recent dramatic rise in unemployment rates.

Nevertheless, individuals who believe they need to move forward to end their marriage can still do so. The internet and other sources provide lots of misinformation about courthouse closures. The reality is that much of the process to initiate a divorce case and move it forward is accomplished via electronic filings and that system continues to operate. As well, lawyers, mediators and courts have moved many of their proceedings to virtual platforms instead of in-person meetings, mediation sessions or hearings. Specifically, multiple video conference and audioconference methods are being used to minimize the delays that would otherwise result if we all had to remain at a standstill until in-person meetings and hearings could resume.

Ending a marriage requires substantial thought and planning under the most favorable circumstances. Although quarantine could increase the complexity of an already difficult decision, you might choose to move forward with expert assistance.

Whether you file for divorce now or wait a few months to take action, it is unlikely that your relationship will change. However, getting the information you need to make an informed decision can empower you to make the best choice for your future.

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