As the economy slowly begins to reopen and the quarantine eases, many couples counselors and family attorneys are anticipating a rise in the number of divorces. The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced families to shelter at home, causing many couples to realize that they cannot continue in their present relationship. People are reflecting on their lives and relationships and making changes. (For options on separating see Attorney Ron Scott’s blog regarding divorce processes.) Even though Connecticut courts are operating only on a limited basis, here are five considerations for those contemplating divorce now or in the future:
1. Most parents number one focus is on their children – If you have children, they are likely your number one priority. Any personal differences between you and your spouse will likely take a backseat for your children’s sake. Most parents try to keep their children as insulated as possible from marital discord. It is of utmost importance that separating couples remember that they will need to continue to parent together even if their marriage does not last.
2. Get a professional perspective about the processes available – Another important step to take is to seek out professional advice about the court process and the law. You should seek informed professional advice regarding child custody, child support, alimony, and the appropriate division of assets. Every marriage is different and your circumstances likely present issues that require the guidance of an experienced professional. If you have the information you need, you will have confidence and a sense of control if life becomes chaotic during the divorce. Divorce is not easy. A thorough dialogue with an experienced professional regarding your marriage history, child status, and financial situation will help guide you to an informed decision on whether to begin divorce proceedings and how those proceedings will proceed in the manner you desire.
3. Get it together. Gathering documents -There are many documents that will need to be gathered if you are planning a divorce. Important financial documents such as tax returns, supporting income documentation, retirement accounts, investment accounts, family debt, insurance information, appraisals of property, etc. will likely need to be produced for the other party to review. In many relationships one spouse handles most of the finances, but it is not too late to educate yourself before you file for a divorce. This may be a good time to contact your accountant or financial advisor if you need assistance.
Financial disputes are frequently a major cause in prolonging a divorce and making the process more expensive for the family.
4. Take your time and develop a strategy – This is a good time to consider your options and figure out a plan to move forward. If you and your spouse aren’t on the same page, it might be a good time to consult a marriage counselor. They may be able to help you reach an agreement on the best way to proceed. Courts are nowprocessing uncontested divorces in Connecticut without a hearing. For couples who reach agreements, the process of finalizing a divorce is possible.
5. Be patient – Facing the prospect of a divorce during a pandemic is certainly a daunting prospect. It is important to consider your situation thoughtfully. Be careful what you say in texts, emails, and any social media postings. It is not a time for hasty decisions. Everything you put out into writing can come back and bite you in a future divorce proceeding. (Read Attorney Kate Haakonsen’s blog Pause Before You Post) This is not the time to act emotionally.
No matter how or when you divorce, it can be one of the most difficult things you go through. Emotionally, economically, and spiritually it will bring lasting changes to your life. In these unprecedented times, it is more challenging than ever.
At Brown Paindiris & Scott, our attorneys have been helping people overcome every manner of family law challenges since 1977. We understand the issues that separating couples face. Our extensive experience in helping people with property- and child-related questions in divorce allows us to create individually tailored representation that benefits all individuals who face similar questions and challenges.
Many of our lawyers have been nominated for Connecticut Super Lawyers and our firm has earned an AV* Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell’s peer-review rating system, the highest available rating.