- Laura L. Van Tassel, Esq.
Separating During COVID-19
For those of you who were considering a separation before the pandemic, the stress associated with sheltering at home may have pushed you over the edge.
Here are some tips to help guide you through separation during Covid-19:
Treat each other in a civil manner and with respect – this is not always easy, especially when you are engaged in a difficult separation and there has been a breakdown in trust/communication. However, it is important – particularly if you are living with children. You and your ex-partner may have to rely on each other during these unprecedented times, even if you were struggling to speak to each other last week.
Find a way to communicate – there are significant practical issues to contend with in the coming weeks and months. Arguments are not going to help. Try and think ahead and raise any problems that you foresee in advance. Perhaps set up a 5-minute call/email exchange at a particular point in the day to raise or discuss practicalities/concerns/immediate issues. Limit conversation to what is needed to resolve the practical issues that arise and get you through the next few weeks.
Do not involve the kids – children are sponges who absorb tension and conflict. It is always difficult to shield them from a breakdown in their parents’ relationship, especially if the family is having to occupy the same space for extended periods during that time, or parents are anxious. However, it is important that you do. Prioritize your children’s welfare and what is in their best interests.
Write it down – if you are feeling frustrated or angry about something that your (ex) partner is doing and that you cannot raise it with them without it causing an argument at home, keep a diary so that you have a record of what has happened.
Money worries (short and long term) – given the impact that Covid-19 is currently having on the economy, stocks, and shares, small businesses, employees, likely house prices, this is inevitably going to have an impact on your financial situation in the short and longer-term as assets may need to be valued or re-valued.
During this time is something else that will need to be resolved. Income positions are also likely to be materially affected, potentially dramatically so in the short term. It may be that you/your representatives need to speak about liquidating assets to enable you (both – and particularly any children) to survive financially through this difficult time. Taking a pragmatic, constructive approach to this may limit conflict and cost, and if short term cash-flow problems can be resolved, the whole family will benefit. However, you do need to be cautious about what you are left with after Covid-19. At this time, the focus should be on being aware of what the potential issues may be, and how to ensure that in the short term your family unit’s needs can be met. Keep an eye on the future position too. The government is offering support (as widely reported in the press) including loans to small businesses, mortgage holidays, and assistance to those renting. If you are concerned about your finances, there is help available. Speak to a family lawyer who will be able to offer advice.
Action that can be taken
We are doing zoom meetings, virtual meetings - or socially distance meetings. All safety guidelines are being administered and mediation, as well as collaborative, remain extremely great alternatives to litigation and divorce battles.
Who to turn to – the courts are open and quickly adjusting to ensure that access to justice can continue at this time. Finally, if you are concerned about your safety or the safety of your children, you should contact the police.
I am available to assist you with the full range of difficulties that you may be facing at this unprecedented time. You can contact me here.
This article is a general summary and should not replace specific legal advice tailored to your circumstances