How Has Covid-19 Changed Divorce Proceedings?
Before the global pandemic, divorce rates were declining in the U.S. The number of divorces per 1,000 marriages hit a 50-year low in 2019, as reported by the Institute for Family Studies. Both marriage and divorce rates declined nationally during the pandemic, when many plans were put on hold, according to a study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
However, marital problems appear to have been postponed rather than resolved. The number of people looking for divorce increased by 34% in March through June of 2020, as compared to 2019, as stated in a New York Post article.
What Impact Has the Pandemic Had On Marriages?
Factors associated with COVID-19 may have caused irreparable damage to some marriages. The global pandemic has put stress on relationships in several ways, including:
- Disruptions of daily life
- Forced togetherness during lockdowns
- Homeschooling children while working from home
- Unemployment and financial strain
- Deaths of friends and loved ones
- Discouragement, stress, and negative reactions
Who Is More Likely to Get Divorced?
Newlyweds were found to be the group most likely to divorce because of the pandemic. According to the New York Post article, 20% of couples seeking divorce had been married within the past five or fewer months. These statistics indicate that couples who were recently married were less equipped to deal with the stressors that came with COVID-19. States along the Bible Belt, including Alabama and Arkansas, had the highest divorce rates during the pandemic.
How Has COVID-19 Impacted Child Custody?
Family lawyers agree that child custody agreements will never be the same. COVID-19 had a tremendous impact on parenting time, with school and daycare closures, job losses, potential exposure of parents performing essential services, and the need to simultaneously work from home and supervise online learning. Divorced and separated couples with children faced unique challenges, including:
- Renegotiating financial support obligations in the context of job loss
- Different views on virus risk mitigation
- Managing remote schooling with shared physical custody
- Contention over whether to vaccinate children
- Difficulty obtaining a court date to modify custody agreements
Has the Pandemic Affected Division of Assets in a Divorce?
California is a community property state. Any property gained during the marriage must be divided equally between the spouses in a divorce. Valuation may be necessary for equal division of some assets. However, certain assets, such as a business, cannot be easily valued during a pandemic. One possible solution is for the spouses to agree to divide assets by percentage, rather than by dollar value. This approach distributes the risk related to a particular asset between the parties.
How Do You Proceed With Filing a Divorce Today?
Your first step is to consult with an experienced divorce attorney. Our San Diego divorce lawyer can help you develop a plan to make the process go more smoothly. We can advise you on:
- Identifying assets and debts for the discovery process: You will need to collect documentation, which could mean contacting banks, realtors, companies, and other sources.
- Managing your assets: When you are going through a divorce, assets still need to be managed and debts need to be paid. You and your spouse will need to agree on who will be doing what and to keep each other informed of any changes.
- Getting agreements in writing: Agreements between you and spouse should be in writing, to avoid any misunderstandings or missteps.
At Mattis Law, A.P.C., we provide high quality representation in a California divorce. Amelia Mattis is a well-respected, veteran, family law attorney, with a history of success for our clients. Contact us at (858) 328-4400 to set up a free consultation.