Considering Divorce During and After the Pandemic
From the break-up of Hollywood celebrities like former Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and reality star Kristin Cavallari, to rumors of increasing divorce rates following the pandemic, splitting up is making headlines these days.
Divorce rates in the U.S. consistently rise each year in March and April after the winter holidays, according to a University of Washington study. However, due to the unique circumstances of forced time in confined spaces, experts are watching to see what the impact of COVID-19 may mean for marriages.
Relational challenges burden couples even during normal times. The added pressures of living in close quarters with a spouse and children for an extended period, plus the stressors of financial and economic uncertainty, job loss or furlough, online schooling and more can strain the healthiest relationships.
For marriages that were already struggling, the time together with fewer distractions may provide a needed opportunity to strengthen the relationship. It may also give clear evidence that irreparable damage has been done and the marriage is ending.
The decision to end a marriage is not one to be taken lightly. The divorce process can be confusing, emotional, and difficult on many members of the family. It can also be costly during a time when many have lost jobs or filed for unemployment. A survey by Bankrate found the average cost of a divorce to be $15,000 per person. With the drop in the stock market and business valuations, negotiating a fair and equitable divorce may prove difficult at this time, especially if a closely-held business is involved.
If divorce is inevitable, what can you do right now?
- Find a reputable lawyer. A good divorce attorney will offer helpful advice and resources and will fight for your best interests. The attorneys at Lepley, Engelman, Yaw and Wilk, LLC have experience and expertise in handling divorce cases. We have guided thousands of clients successfully through the divorce process and have won many cases. Whether working through collaborative mediation outside of the court at this time or organizing your case in preparation for the courts to open, obtaining a good divorce lawyer is your top priority.
- Conduct yourself with integrity and respect towards your spouse, as much as possible. Everything you say or do has repercussions and could affect your divorce.
- Document your spouse’s harmful behaviors and keep the notes in a safe place. Angry text messages, emails, and voice mails may be helpful in proving your case.
- Be extra mindful about your behavior around your children – and the way you speak about your spouse to them. Your children likely know your marriage is troubled. The extra time and effort you choose to invest in your children now will give them security, stability and comfort both during this uncertain time and later on.
- Get yourself in order – personally and financially - as best you can. Information is power when it comes to divorce, so dig in now and become an expert on your family balance sheet. Tally your typical monthly expenses, review credit card statements and review your income. Also, change your passwords and clean up your electronic activity. Remember, conduct yourself with integrity, but be careful.
- Consider mediation as an option to bypass the traditional court system, which is likely to be inundated once non-essential businesses open.
- Seriously think about counseling to help you, your spouse, and your children weather this time as best as possible. The financial and social uncertainty introduced by the pandemic coupled with familial insecurity is a lot to bear. Counseling can provide tools to support you now and through your divorce.
- Other steps to take before filing for a divorce can be found here.
As you consider the next steps for your future, we are here and ready to help. Lepley, Engelman, Yaw & Wilk, LLC’s divorce lawyers will fight for your rights while also being sensitive to the emotional turmoil that accompanies divorce, separation and custody litigation. We have handled thousands of family law cases with dedication, responsible guidance and needed aggression.
Contact us today to speak with one of our divorce lawyers in PA about your situation.