Navigating Your Divorce Through COVID-19
Finding your way through a divorce is always hard, but navigating your divorce through COVID-19 can seem overwhelming. The pandemic has had a huge emotional and financial effect on individuals and families. If you are like others seeking a divorce right now, the coronavirus outbreak has added a new layer of stress. Strict shelter-in-place orders have halted face-to-face meetings and most courts are hearing only essential matters. And if you are still living with your spouse, being confined together during a divorce can create more tension.
While it may seem impossible right now, you can get through this. It will just take a bit of planning, determination, and help from legal professionals.
5 Steps to Navigating a Successful Divorce during COVID-19
1. Take care of your children and yourself
Physical health and mental well-being are essential for a good outcome, both in your divorce and during the pandemic. Eat right, exercise regularly, take your medications as prescribed, and connect with friends and family. If sheltering in place with your spouse is dangerous for you or for your children, talk to your friends, family, or community outreach programs to find a safe location.
2. Reach agreements with your spouse when possible
Couples who cannot agree to terms of their divorce and leave the decisions to a judge are rarely happy with the results. To help you navigate through your divorce, try to reach peaceful agreements with your spouse – but do so in a way that protects your rights. Try to work out the division of property ahead of time, for example, so that you end up with the assets you deserve. Talk about spousal support, particularly if one spouse became economically dependent throughout the course of the marriage. Work out an equitable child custody agreement that protects your child’s best interest and your rights as a parent.
3. Take your time with big decisions
If you are like most people during the COVID-19 lockdown, you have a little more time on your hands than usual. Use this time to learn about your rights under California family law, double-check your paperwork, and think about how you want your life to look after the divorce. While divorce is a highly emotional whirlwind of activity – especially in the middle of a pandemic – making decisions calmly and at a measured pace can help you make smart choices and get good results.
4. Get your paperwork up to date and filed on time
While family courts may not conduct non-emergency hearings during COVID-19, you can file electronically or drop off your documents in the courthouse lobby then pick up the processed paperwork when it is available.
5. Consult with your legal team
As of Tuesday, March 17, 2020, all San Francisco residents and businesses are under a Shelter-In-Place Order issued by the mayor, London Breed on Monday, March 16. Under the current SF Order, professional services, such as legal services, are considered an “essential business,” and Lvovich & Szucsko, P.C. is continuing its full-time operation. Phone and video consultations are available.