Though divorce can be traumatic at any time of year, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has added unprecedented levels of stress to the process. Family Lawyer and GoransonBain Ausley partner, Aimee Key takes you through five ways you can navigate your divorce proceedings during such an uncertain time.
The COVID-19 pandemic is already having a huge emotional and financial impact on individuals and families. For people starting or in the midst of divorce, these new challenges only add to their existing stress. Strict quarantine measures have put a stop to face-to-face meetings. Courts are closed for all but “essential matters”. And if you’re still living with your spouse, being confined together is likely to create more problems than it solves. So, what can you do to get through it successfully?
1. Take care of yourself
Make your wellbeing and health a top priority. Connect regularly with family and friends and try to exercise every day. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, so find time to step away from the news and social media. If you see a counselor regularly, move your sessions to the phone or via Zoom, and if you take prescription medication for anxiety or depression, continue your regimen. It might be tough, but try to remind yourself of the things you’re thankful for, despite life’s uncertainties.
2. Focus on your children
If you have kids, sticking to routines will help life feel as normal as possible. Reassure them that this strange time will pass. Do your best to avoid fighting or taking out your stress and fear on each other or allowing your spouse to do the same. Child abuse increases during times of uncertainty and economic distress, so if you’re worried about the safety or wellbeing of your child(ren), seek help from your professional team, including your family law attorney.
3. Try something new
While time away from work or “normal” life may feel strange, it’s also a great opportunity to try new things. Could you use your free time to help others, like vulnerable people in your neighborhood? Perhaps there’s a creative project you’ve been meaning to get to? With so much out there on the internet, you could also learn new skills, take cookery classes, or try a new type of exercise, like yoga.
4. Don’t rush big decisions
Though it might make you feel better in the short-term, making impulsive decisions like selling your investments or liquidating your retirement without financial or legal advice is very risky. Remember, if you have started the divorce process, you’re still subject to local standing orders and injunctions. However, you and your spouse can stop the legal process for a while if you want to, especially if you’d rather not settle major financial or child-related issues right now.
5. Stay in touch with your team
Whatever your decisions, keep in contact with your attorney and professional team to understand your options. If you’d like your divorce to continue, video conference calls can be an effective way to have face to face group meetings. This is also a good time to:
- Discuss with your family law attorney how the Texas Courts are considering COVID-19 exposure and exchanges during a quarantine – the way parents manage themselves during times of crisis can influence a court’s decision around parenting.
- Talk with your family law attorney to discuss manageable creative parenting options if you’re still living with your spouse.
- Consider adding a CDFA (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst) to your team if you haven’t already done so to help with division of assets and debts post-divorce.
And remember, even if it can sometimes feel like it, you are not alone during this uncertain time. The family law attorneys at GoransonBain Ausley are always here to help.