Divorce is never easy, and navigating the process during a pandemic is especially stressful. Businesses are closing their doors, jobs are at risk, and families are being pushed to their limits in such close quarters with little opportunity for reprieve. With so much uncertainty in what lies ahead, filing for divorce can become even more daunting and complicated. Here’s what you need to know about making this decision and the steps that follow:
Has COVID-19 affected your marriage?
One of the biggest stressors on any couple is uncertainty regarding finances. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has put the job security of many Americans at risk, as well as causing fluctuations in the real estate and stock markets. These types of financial insecurities are enough to cause tension in any struggling marriage.
Additionally, so many businesses are either closed or operating on limited hours, keeping people in their homes now more than ever. With increased time spent at home and little opportunity for reprieve, some couples might find themselves unable to reach solutions for an unhappy or incompatible marriage.
Your options for divorce
There are multiple routes a couple can take when filing for divorce. Depending on your scenario, you may qualify for a shorter or simpler process:
- Pro Se: In a Pro Se scenario, each party represents themselves to reach a settlement.
- Mediation: A trained mediator serves as a neutral party to help the divorcing couple reach a settlement.
- Collaboration: A collaboration between mediators, attorneys, trained professionals, and the divorcing couple work together to reach a settlement. There is no litigation in this process.
- Working through attorneys: A traditional process, where representation for each member of the divorcing couple work to reach a settlement. In this process, the couple typically isn’t in contact.
- Litigation: Presenting a case to the judge and following the verdict given.
How COVID-19 has changed the process
With social distancing mandates and businesses operating on limited hours, there could be some major roadblocks slowing your path to divorce in the months ahead. Any couples considering divorce or already going through it will need to familiarize themselves with major changes in the process.
It’s important to mention that financial struggles are just as likely to delay a divorce as they are to cause them. Because assessing and dividing assets is the biggest part of divorce proceedings, uncertainty regarding your finances might cause delays.
Delays can also come from the courts. In response to the pandemic, some courts may be closed or operating on limited hours with lower capacities. You can search the South Carolina Judicial Branch website to check for updates on courthouses in your area. Luckily courts and lawyers are finding innovative ways to adapt to new safety protocols during this time. Check to see if your meetings or mediations may be going virtual.
What can you do?
The more prepared you are in the divorce process, the easier it will be for you. Determining a new budget and mapping out your expenses can save you headaches later on. If you have children, determine custody plans, living arrangements, and define a new normal for life after your divorce is finalized.
Divorce is an emotionally-charged experience for any couple, and it’s important to find a legal professional who can give you the confidence and guidance to see you through the process. Sara Turner is a lawyer in the Charleston, South Carolina area with a focus on family law, and she will help you through this difficult process with expertise and compassion. For those in South Carolina seeking divorce during this pandemic, contact Sara A. Turner for legal representation today.