The world on lockdown has provided families around the globe more time to spend with each other. While it’s a welcome opportunity for couples who get along well, it’s far from pleasant for those who have a lot of differences. There’s talk going around in legal circles that there is an increase in divorce inquiries in 2020 and that a spike in divorce rate is to be expected.
Novel Virus, Novel Issues
When tensions are high, and there’s nowhere else to go, couples are experiencing new and amplified versions of the underlying problems they may have otherwise avoided during pre-pandemic times. To add to the turmoil, there is a lack of freedom, coupled with overwhelming feelings of uncertainty regarding health, careers, and finances. Jurisdictions in the United States and around the world have also been reporting an increase in domestic violence, as abusive spouses are now stuck at home with their victims.
The earliest news reports regarding the surge of divorce rates came from Wuhan, China, where the pandemic started and quarantine measures were first implemented. When the lockdown eased in March, couples were lining up to file a divorce in record-high numbers.
It’s evident that the concentrated time couples are spending together during quarantine can turn out to be detrimental to their marriages. The physical, financial, emotional, and mental stressors brought about by the pandemic are aggravating existing relationship problems.
Six Feet of Separation: What You Can Do If Divorce Is in the Cards
In the United States, a divorce happens every 13 to 36 seconds. Separating in an uncertain time without preparations can make an already stressful household into something even worse. If divorce is inevitable, careful financial planning should be in the works so that couples can mitigate the negative consequences of splitting assets, especially when done during a pandemic.
1. Assess the future of your marital home
You are not obligated to leave the marital house, but if the situation at home is hostile and you have other living arrangements in mind, it pays to work with both a good estate attorney and a family law attorney.
Ending your marriage can wreak havoc on your existing estate plan, especially when your spouse is the sole beneficiary of your estate. If your intent has changed, make sure to update your will and change the power of attorney. You will also need to address titling matters and recheck your prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement.
2. Schedule the date for the sake of your finances
Divorce is a decision that shouldn’t be made in the heat of the moment. If emotions are running high, take a step back and wait for the right time to file for divorce. The truth is that a cutoff date is applied to the accumulation of your conjugal assets. If you file right there and then and there is a large sum of money arriving in a few days, this amount may not be included in the assets that will be divided between you and your spouse in your divorce.
Before you proceed, take a look at your marital accounts and consider dates of deposits in your strategy. If you are not in a hurry to begin the legal process, you can turn this into an advantage.
3. Proving fault is optional
When you fill out the divorce papers, you will need to check one of the many grounds for divorce included on the list. In the event that the reason is adultery, you need to be aware that there are additional requirements for this ground, such as serving the third party, hiring a private investigator, and proving the infidelity. There is little to no benefit when you choose this route, aside from the satisfaction of letting other people know that the divorce is your spouse’s fault. There is no guarantee that you get a larger settlement or more parental benefits.
In the wake of a pandemic, it is wiser to keep the process as smooth and simple, without wasting time and money on unnecessary resources. You may opt for the “no fault”grounds of irreconcilable differences, which can give you the same settlement results without the extra effort and expenses.
The Verdict: Seek Good Legal Counsel
For better or for worse, the pandemic has brought on new challenges to marriages around the world. For some, there’s marital bliss. For others, the situation has expedited the need for divorce. That said, divorce in the time of the novel coronavirus won’t be easy. Family separation, especially when little children are involved, can be extremely difficult for the years to come. Having a good divorce lawyer can get you a favorable settlement once the divorce is finalized, which can help you move forward in this tough time.