Is it a Good Idea to File for Divorce During the COVID-19 Health Crisis?

No one expected the coronavirus pandemic to drag on as long as it has and now people who were planning to get a divorce prior to COVID-19 find themselves faced with a difficult decision: Do they file for divorce now or wait out the current health crisis? If you have already discussed getting a divorce with your spouse or if you and your spouse have physically separated, it may be a good idea to consult a divorce lawyer to discuss your options. Even if you managed to file for divorce before the pandemic hit, your case may have been delayed due to COVID-19 lockdowns and the strict safety measures put in place to slow the spread of the virus. If you, like many people, were waiting until the health crisis passed to pursue a divorce proceeding, you may be wondering whether now is the right time to finally move forward with your divorce.

Below we have compiled some helpful tips and information about filing for divorce during the COVID-19 health crisis, in hopes that we can help those of you considering divorce or separation find your way through this challenging time. For more information about COVID-19 and divorce, please visit our website or call our knowledgeable divorce lawyers directly at (213) 550-4600. We have years of experience representing clients in all matters related to divorce, property division, child custody, spousal support and more, and we can help you make the right decisions as you navigate your divorce during COVID-19.

Think About Timing

As with any legal matter, it is important that the timing is right when you decide to file for divorce. If you haven’t yet had the chance to speak to your spouse about separating or getting divorced, you may be unsure whether now is the right time. The coronavirus pandemic changed a lot of things for a lot of people and you may be worried about turning your family life upside-down while the health crisis remains a very real threat. When it comes down to it, the decision to file for divorce is a deeply personal one and for many people, it is a difficult one, too. As long as your relationship isn’t putting or your children in danger, there is nothing wrong with waiting for a time that feels right to broach the subject. You may find that once the COVID-19 risk has passed, you and your spouse are better able to focus on other matters. For some couples, the pandemic and the resulting quarantine may have actually given them a much-needed opportunity to work on their relationship and reconcile their issues without resorting to divorce.

Hire an Experienced Divorce Attorney as Soon as Possible

If you have done your research, you already know that an attorney is not required to file for divorce in Los Angeles. That being said, it is always a good idea to consult an experienced divorce and family law attorney who can ensure that you understand your legal rights and inform you of any issues you could face in your divorce. No two divorce cases are the same and a competent divorce lawyer can give you reliable legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances. Hiring an attorney is especially important when there are other family law matters arising from the divorce proceeding that you will need to address, such as child custody and support, alimony, relocation, or a restraining order.

If you are planning to talk to your spouse about getting a divorce, it may help to discuss all of these things with an attorney first, so you can get an idea of how you want to approach each matter and how your spouse may respond. For instance, if you have children together, you and your spouse will have to figure out a way to co-parent. If you are not able to agree on a co-parenting plan, you may have to appear before the court in a child custody hearing. If you intend to move out of the marital home, you may need to start looking for a new place to live right away, especially since COVID-19 has the potential to throw a wrench into even the best-laid plans.

Protect Yourself and Your Children

As we mentioned earlier, your safety and the safety of your children should be a major factor in your decision about whether or not to file for divorce during COVID-19. One unforeseen consequence of the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown measures implemented as part of a nationwide effort to reduce transmission was a spike in domestic violence. Abuse victims suddenly found themselves confined to their homes with their abusers, with limited access to help and support. If you are the victim of domestic violence and you are seeking a divorce to put a stop to the abuse, there is no time to waste. It is not uncommon for intimate partner violence or family violence to increase in frequency and/or severity when the abuse victim attempts to end the relationship, so your first priority should be to get yourself and your children to a safe place. Once you have done so, contact our legal team at Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles for advice on how to proceed with your divorce.

Consider All Possible Health and Financial Implications

Things are different now than they were before the coronavirus outbreak brought the world to a crashing halt last year, and it may be a long time before they go back to normal, if they ever do. Workers all over the country lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19, businesses were forced to shut down and many never reopened, the stock market crashed, millions of people fell ill and hundreds of thousands died. As a result of this unprecedented public health crisis and the countless obstacles arising from it, many people suddenly and unexpectedly found themselves dealing with unforeseen physical, emotional, and financial losses.

For a lucky handful of people, COVID-19 may have had little, if any, impact on their plans for divorce. For others, the way they imagined their divorce might look at the beginning of 2020 may no longer be a reasonable expectation. Spouses who lost their jobs during the pandemic, for instance, may no longer be bringing home the same income, or they may have been forced to retire earlier than expected due to a disability caused by the coronavirus. Either of these scenarios could have an impact on their ability to meet the child support or spousal support obligations you would have otherwise anticipated receiving. Child custody arrangements may also have to be amended post-COVID, as many schools still have virtual learning or hybrid curriculums in place.

Even house-hunting post-divorce poses more of a challenge now than it did in the past, as many property owners and real estate and rental agencies are limiting their in-person showings during COVID-19. Depending on where you live, you might find that it takes several weeks before you are able to see the inside of a prospective home. You might also find that home prices have increased or that the market is significantly more competitive now than it was pre-COVID. That is not to say that you should put off your divorce because it may be hard to find a new place to live, but you should be prepared to consider every possible impact the pandemic may have on your divorce.

Familiarize Yourself with the New Divorce Process

The social distancing requirements brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak had an immediate and dramatic impact on courts nationwide, including those handling matters related to divorce and family law. Many courts were forced to close to adhere to the mandated COVID-19 restrictions and those that stayed open prioritized emergency matters, such as criminal cases and those involving domestic violence and abuse. Divorce cases that had already been scheduled with the court were canceled or rescheduled to a later date and new divorce filings were put off temporarily. This created a backlog of divorce cases courts are still struggling to clear and prolonged the divorce process altogether. Now that courts have reopened and are hearing non-emergency cases again, the divorce process may still look a little different than you expected. In many states, divorces can now be “e-filed,” and judges are conducting uncontested hearings remotely via video conferencing rather than in-person in the courtroom.

Consult Our Skilled Divorce Lawyers for Legal Help

The current health crisis has caused many of us to reevaluate our present situation and make a decision about how we want to move forward. For some people, this has led to the decision to file for divorce. If you are considering filing for divorce in Los Angeles, contact our legal team at Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles right away to discuss your legal options. We are here to make the divorce process as easy on you as humanly possible, especially during COVID-19, when there are plenty of other things to be uncertain about. With our reputable divorce lawyers on your side, you can feel confident that you understand each and every aspect of the divorce process and get your divorce filed and finalized as quickly as possible.