Coronavirus, Self-Quarantine and Divorce: Experts Share Survival Tips

Mediation and Divorce Blog did a round up of the best divorce advice during a pandemic. Here is the story:

Preparing to divorce and then COVID-19 crisis hit?

Here are some tips on how to deal with “forced togetherness” during the quarantine, so your divorce can be peaceful once it’s lifted.

Maybe you made the decision to end your marriage prior to the Coronavirus crisis, but had not yet told your spouse – you wanted to prepare for divorce first so you could take steps to keep things as peaceful as possible.

Or maybe you and your husband or wife agreed to divorce and took preliminary steps to interview attorneys or mediators, but before you went ahead and hired a professional and started the divorce process, self-quarantine and shelter-in-place directives were imposed.

Then, in an instant, your divorce plans came to a screeching halt.

If you are now quarantined together in the same household, you are likely feeling trapped, stressed and overwhelmed. And that anxiety is only compounded by kids home from school, working from home, job and financial uncertainty and concerns about your health and the well-being of your loved ones.

With no end to this in sight.

Here’s my contribution to the article:

Planning for a divorce is never easy. Coming to the realization that your relationship is over while trying to cope with a global pandemic has the potential to be emotionally overwhelming. But, much like a national disaster, you are better prepared if you acknowledge that divorce is on the horizon and plan for it accordingly.

There are still proactive steps you can take despite quarantine orders and social distancing:

1. Consultation.

Specific questions about your divorce – much like medical problems – cannot be answered with internet searches.

Many lawyers and mediators are available right now for online video conferencing or even a simple phone call. Talk to a lawyer to find out your rights and the details of your specific case. Just having a bit of detailed information can make your situation feel more manageable.

2. Mediation.

Look into options for divorce mediation.

Many mediators are prepared for online sessions despite this pandemic. In my practice, we’ve had several successful mediation sessions starting with Zoom and Skype conferencing. The goal is to open a dialogue and lay the foundation for a friendly split wherever possible.

Since mediation involves both spouses participating, an online format can work well – even if you and your spouse call in from separate rooms to reduce tension.

3. Scheduling.

If you have kids then you are probably dealing with the stress of home-schooling, on top of everything else. In normal circumstances, when a couple lives together during a divorce (which is not uncommon due to finances) I advise them to work out a schedule for time-sharing with the kids that can be transitioned into an access schedule when the separation eventually happens. Generally, this can involve dividing up weekend time and giving each other some space during the week (if and when you can!)

If you are able to start that discussion with your spouse now and come up with a schedule – even if it means dividing up space in the house – it may help alleviate some of the stress of quarantine. It may also result in both of you sharing the heavy load of home-school and childcare that is happening across the country right now.

4. Documentation.

At the end of the day, the divorce process will still involve a detailed look at the finances.

Start gathering your paperwork so that you can be ready for the financial disclosure process. Pulling together tax returns, bank statements, credit card and utility bills for a minimum of the last three years will help you get ahead. Take time now to learn about the marital expenses and review the budget (especially if you haven’t been involved with the marital finances). Finances are difficult for most people to talk about in normal circumstances, but the added stress and uncertainty right now may complicate these conversations.

You may not need to push for stressful conversations that make a deteriorating relationship worse right now. But you can gather the paperwork and start getting familiar on your own.

5. Self-care.

Finally, I think it’s important for people to acknowledge the real difficulties they are facing in dealing with a divorce during this global disaster. This is hard. Treat yourself gently with a bit of grace. Take whatever breaks you can and find ways that help you de-stress.

You do not need to be perfect right now – you just need to do your best.

Morghan Richardson, Esq, Divorce Attorney, Consultant and Mediator in NYC

You can read the full article here: Coronavirus, Self-Quarantine and Divorce: Experts Share Survival Tips

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