You’re in a contested divorce; you are stressed out enough. Maybe you were making progress and nearing the end of the divorce.
Or, maybe you felt like months were going by and nothing was happening. Either way, this pandemic we all are dealing with about the Coronavirus changes everything.
I’m writing this article on March 21, 2020. We are smack in the middle of this crisis. Actually, nobody knows when it will end, or even get better. It seems like every day is getting worse right now. States are enacting "stay at home" orders. All non-essential businesses are closing. People are getting laid off. Schools are closed. As a parent of a kindergartener and a working parent, I can tell you it’s not easy. Thankfully, the liquor stores are staying open…for now.
The news outlets are saying this could go on for months, not weeks. Whether you’re religious or not, if you’re reading this in March, it almost feels like if you don’t believe in God, now may be the time to start. That’s how bad it is. Oh, and you’re in the middle of a divorce!
Is the Coronavirus Affecting Your Divorce?
As an attorney, I can tell you that the courts are reeling during this crisis. Jury trials are all being rescheduled. Judges and court staff are working remotely. Hearings are being held telephonically, or by video when possible. How does this affect the family courts? Just like everything else, unless there is an emergent issue that needs to be addressed, your divorce is going to take a back seat for the time being.
One of my mantras in my divorce coaching is, “you’re not alone.” In this uncertain time of unprecedented crisis, this couldn’t ring more true. Whether you’re getting divorced, or not, we are truly not alone in dealing with this crisis. Your mindset and our common sense will be your best tools during this time. Let me explain.
First, let us talk about common sense.
When there is a crisis like this, it’s easy to panic and get caught up in the negativity and stories we hear on the news and from friends/family. But, not everything you hear is true. For example, there is no shortage of food supply or paper products due to coronavirus
. Yet, people are hoarding supplies, such as toilet paper and bottled water, when there is no need for it. People panic, but if you use your common sense and listen to the experts about what is really going on, you would realize that there is no need to panic about food or toilet paper.
Next, we are all in this together.
If you’re an otherwise healthy person, even if you get this virus, you most likely will be fine. It will be like getting the flu. But, this virus pandemic is not about you. It’s about the fact that you may be a carrier of the virus and not even know it. Meaning, you are asymptomatic. But, you can still spread the virus to someone else. That’s the danger. The person you spread it to may not be so healthy and thus in real danger. Also, we don’t want our hospitals to be overwhelmed with coronavirus people because there is not enough equipment to treat thousands and thousands of people at the same time.
My point is that it will take all of us working together to get through this. You affect everyone in your home and whom you work with, and they affect everyone in their social circles and so on and so on. So, to stop the spread, people have to think about others and yes…you’re not alone!
As for your divorce, there isn’t much you can do to get the courts to act quickly. The courts will re-open when the crisis stabilizes. You just have to buckle in and accept that there may be some delays. But, there is something you can do to help move your divorce along.
Remember, it takes two to settle.
Maybe you and your spouse have not agreed on anything about the divorce so far. Maybe things are bitter and contentious. I get it. But, you and your ex have a choice to make. You can continue on your current path of non-communication and wait for the courts to get back on schedule. That maybe weeks, or even months from now. Or, you can try to work things out and compromise with each other to make progress now. Which sounds better to you?
And, the best part about the latter strategy is that it doesn’t matter who is to blame for what. The past is the past. The future is yours. Both of you can make your own path and you don’t have to wait for the courts. Do mediation. Maybe even a virtual mediation since you can’t be in the same room right now. Actually, virtual mediations sound better anyway, right?!
Trust me, the court doesn’t want you to wait for them. Don’t take it personally. You’re just another docket number. But, on the flip side, do you care what the court thinks of you? I hope not. Take this time to recalibrate how you feel about each other. Wouldn’t you like to get this divorce over with and move on to better things? Is your animosity toward your ex worth spending thousands more and using up all your emotional currency? I know the answer is no.
The coronavirus may just be your silver lining to finalize your divorce now. Don’t miss the opportunity. Stay healthy.