The pandemic complicates everything, including divorce

On Behalf of | Feb 12, 2021 | Divorce

For those who might be keeping score, you can add divorce to the long list of things altered by the pandemic.

As Covid-19 has battered the nation, concerns about health and economic security have added to tension in many marriages. The pandemic has affected divorce, too, changing everything how long the divorce process can take to how people can appear before the court and how people consult with family law attorneys, therapists, real estate agents and others.

In many homes, privacy is fleeting or nonexistent. It can be difficult not only to have private virtual meetings but to have time away from the strain of pre-divorce married life.

Cold therapy

A 58-year-old man interviewed for a news article about pandemic-era divorce said he sometimes resorted to having virtual therapy sessions on his back deck in 20-degree weather, struggling to hear and be heard over traffic noise.

He said there had been cracks in his marriage for a while, but with him, his wife and their adult son all confined to the same house by the pandemic, “things just got worse. There was no time away to regroup.”

Complicating the simple

The nation’s health crisis has also complicated tasks that were once simple, such as getting documents notarized. And tasks that were rarely simple before the pandemic – such as moving out – can be infinitely more complex in places where real estate prices have plummeted because people are reluctant to sell their house in a down market.

Many have also had to endure coronavirus-related delays, as trials and hearings were rescheduled because a judge, lawyer or divorcing spouse had been exposed. Delays also exact their own emotional price, of course.

Avoiding trial

When it’s all added up, it puts more pressure on people to settle their differences in negotiations over child custody and support, property division, spousal support and other common divorce disputes rather than going to court. According to the New York Times, about 90 percent of pre-pandemic divorces didn’t go to trial, but some family law attorneys say that figure is now closer to 98 percent.