Living in close quarters because of COVID has helped bring some families closer, but in other cases, it has had the opposite effect. COVID has forced couples to spend more time together because of work from home or unemployment, while also restricting time with other family and friends and going out for entertainment. All this has added to the marital stress some couples were probably already feeling. As a result, they are now considering divorce. The problem is that COVID has also introduced new challenges in physically separating. This makes it more important than ever to find a way to settle divorce disputes without adversarial litigation.
When couples decide to divorce, typically, one party will move out. However, COVID has made it more difficult to look for a new home and deal with all the issues that come with moving (viewing properties; hiring movers, contractors, and other workers; buying furniture; etc.). Furthermore, if the couple has children, it adds another wrinkle negotiating custody and parenting time as adults or children may be exposed to COVID. Parents may also find it more difficult to get childcare to cover periods when neither one is available.
In some cases, it may be a good idea for spouses to continue to live together while the divorce is pending and COVID remains a concern. The parties can file in court and get the divorce started but they would still share the same household. However, the only way to do that is for the parties to cooperate and mutually respect each other. Obviously, the stress that caused the divorce will still be there. If the parties have made the decision to divorce, they can now focus on making the transition from married to divorced. Clearly, living together while divorcing is not feasible or recommended in certain situations, including where there is domestic violence or significant conflict. However, if that is not the case, sharing a household may be an option worth considering.
Whether the spouses continue to live together or not, there are still ways to make the divorce process easier. The parties can discuss and try to settle disputes over property distribution, spousal support, child support and custody as opposed to litigating these issues. Settlement saves time and money over litigation even if the parties only agree on some issues and cannot resolve every disagreement. Furthermore, parties who settle are generally more satisfied with the terms of the divorce than if they litigated the case. They feel more vested in the resolution they came to themselves as opposed to one that was forced on them by a judge. When parties are happier with their divorce, they also move forward in their lives faster instead of dwelling on the past. Finally, if children are involved, settlement has tremendous benefits in helping them cope with the divorce. Parents can show they respect each other and will work together for the good of their children.
Sometimes litigation is unavoidable, but don’t let your immediate emotions make that decision. Consult an attorney to discuss your options.
If you are considering divorce, contact us to learn more about how we can help you achieve the best result in your case.