COVID-19 has made everything slower and more difficult. Even though a lot of states, including New York, are gradually reopening, the delays created by the stay-at-home orders are brutal. This is especially true for people who want to end their marriage before or during the pandemic. While state courts for civil, criminal, and family matters never really closed, they started operating at a limited capacity in March to quell the spread of the virus in their offices. This created a backlog of cases, meaning that your settlement or trial, especially if you haven’t even filed it, isn’t getting started any time soon.
Going through a divorce process can get overwhelming, especially now that you also have to worry about the pandemic. You should still do your best to prepare for it. Here’s how you can cope with separation during these unprecedented times.
First Things First: Get Legal Advice
If you and your spouse have decided on getting a divorce, the first thing you should do is get legal help from an expert divorce lawyer. They’ll help you review your different options for divorce. These can include the following:
This is the usual divorce that goes to trial in front of the judge. This is seen as a viable option when both parties can’t agree on a settlement. The judge issues the final decisions on behalf of both parties.
This involves both parties collaborating on a settlement and file the necessary paperwork after. This is best for couples who agree on separating and don’t have much bad blood between each other.
If a settlement isn’t possible, but the couple still doesn’t want to go to trial, they can choose to go through mediation. This involves a third-party, usually a lawyer trained in mediation, guiding both parties to a mutual agreement.
Settle Your Budget and Other Financial Information
After years or even months of sharing expenses with your spouse, budgeting only for yourself can seem like a brand-new experience. You have a unique lifestyle now that you’re on your own, so you need to create a budget for your current living expenses.
You also need to document your current income, tax returns, bank accounts, and credit card debt. This information will help decide the spousal and child support amounts during your settlement or trial, if applicable.
Determine Your Communication Options
Whether you like it or not, you and your spouse need to have an open line of communication throughout the process. This gets difficult if you’re already living apart. You can’t just hold a physical meeting with them because social distancing methods need to be observed. Both of you have to settle on video conferences or long phone calls during work from home breaks.
The new normal is challenging, especially for soon-to-be divorcees like you. The courts are backlogged, and your separation is likely going to be delayed. As such, it’s best to focus on things you can control, like choosing a lawyer, getting the necessary documents for your settlement or trial, and communicating with your ex-spouse about your living arrangements, child support, and more. With enough time and effort, you’ll reach your settlement, mediation, or even trial and finally get the new beginning you deserve.