Going through the divorce process is stressful enough. However, couples who were just beginning the process as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic exploded are now faced with extra complications. Divorcing couples who could have otherwise separated and lived apart while they finalized the process are now finding themselves quarantined together under one roof. Rather than having the space to sort through your emotions about the end of your marriage, you may be forced to interact with your soon-to-be ex-spouse on a daily—or hourly—basis. Let’s examine what psychologists and other mental health professionals are saying about the impact of COVID-19 on divorcing couples.
Coping With Uncertainty
Even those in strong and healthy marriages are experiencing increased stress and strain while under quarantine. Partners must deal with their personal feelings of anxiety and uncertainty, while also supporting the mental and emotional health of their spouse. Suddenly, mundane activities, such as grocery shopping or going to work, have become incredibly stressful. Married couples who used to work outside the home may now be trying to work from their living room and figuring out how to homeschool their children during the day. It’s estimated that even those in seemingly stable marriages may seek a divorce once the quarantine is lifted. For those whose marriages were already struggling, the added stress of the pandemic and the quarantine may prolong the emotional toll of the divorce process.
Delays in the Divorce Process
If you and your spouse have already initiated the divorce process, you are likely dealing with a prolonged process. Many courts have closed down for the foreseeable future, and it may be hard to negotiate the terms of your divorce without the presence of your attorneys. Even if your attorney can work with you on the phone or over video chat, it can be hard to carve out space to speak openly without your ex overhearing your conversation. In the midst of all this uncertainty, however, it’s important to recognize that you still have options. Perhaps you and your ex can agree to put the divorce on hold for the time being. If you agree to pause the divorce proceedings, you can give yourselves some much-needed time and space to focus on other major concerns you may be facing, such as the loss of income or concerns about your child’s education.
What You Can Do
It’s completely understandable to be overwhelmed right now. As much as you can, try to find a few moments to take care of yourself each day. Call a friend, listen to a favorite song, go for a walk around the block, or pet your dog. If you are still living with the spouse you are eventually divorcing, check in with each other and come to an agreement about your current priorities. Try to reach an understanding that you won’t make any major decisions right now, such as selling off stocks or picking major fights. If you decide to pause your divorce proceedings, do so. If you still want to move forward while under quarantine, discuss some realistic ways to facilitate the process—video conference your attorneys, consult virtually with a financial planner or start creating a shared vision for child custody arrangements. Most importantly, allow yourselves to feel frustrated, upset, and overwhelmed when you experience these emotions. Then, find ways to support each other in minor ways so that, once your divorce is finalized, you’ll be financially, emotionally, and mentally prepared to move on.
Even during these unprecedented times, the understanding and dedicated attorneys at Henderson Taylor Law Firm are here to support you. Give us a call at (360) 737-1478 to discuss your divorce goals.