Facing a Divorce as the COVID-19 Quarantine Ends in California
Stay-at-home orders and self-quarantining has impacted family relationships in positive ways for many. Unfortunately, married couples and families have also experienced negative consequences of spending months with one another. As stay-at-home orders are lifted in California, marriage counselors, family lawyers, and other experts have predicted an increase in divorce.
Below we cover some common reasons for divorce after quarantine and crucial aspects of your relationship you should consider as you potentially embark upon separation or divorce.
How Quarantine Increases the Likelihood of Divorce for Some Married Couples
Stay-at-home orders forced married couples to spend time together, for better or for worse. Consequences of quarantining can lead to divorce for some couples for the following reasons:
- Forced time together makes it highly likely that any underlying marital issues come to the surface. In the interest of keeping the peace, sometimes partners choose to ignore or avoid bothersome issues. Spending time together eventually might lead to a blow-up, confessions, arguments, and heated discussions about issues someone has been holding onto for months or years.
- Some couples already made the choice to separate or divorce prior to quarantine. Yet, they were not able to take action because of shelter-in-place orders. Spending time together cemented their decision, and they are only waiting for the opportunity to take action.
- The stress of the job loss, working from home, home-schooling children, and/or coping with exposure or potential exposure to COVID-19 was simply too much pressure for a couple, especially if their marriage was already troubled.
Choosing the Right Divorce Process for You
If you and your spouse are facing separation or divorce with an end to the quarantine, you might feel overwhelmed, sad, angry, worried, and anxious. If you are sharing your situation with friends and family, it’s also likely you’ve heard horror stories about divorce proceedings and received truckloads of unsolicited advice from well-meaning people.
You and your spouse have the choice to overcome the horror and drama, which is especially beneficial if you have children. Divorce does not have to be a nasty process that ends with you both in front of a judge, who might make decisions that make neither of you happy.
California courts suggest two options for resolving your separation or divorce outside of court: mediation and collaborative divorce. These Alternative Dispute Resolutions (ADR) are a common, and often more amicable, approach to divorce instead of litigation.
During mediation, an impartial third-party helps you and your spouse reach a divorce agreement you can both accept. Mediators are trained to help couples talk about the issues of divorce in a way that allows them to settle their own disputes. If you participate in mediation, the mediator will not make decisions. Only you and your spouse make decisions, and you must agree. Mediation also serves as a valuable step prior to litigation. You might not come to an agreement on everything, but if you need to go to trial, the judge can focus on a lesser number of disputed issues.
The collaborative divorce process is similar to mediation with some big differences. If you and your spouse choose a collaborative divorce, you each must hire specially trained collaborative lawyers. Your attorneys will advise you and help you negotiate a settlement agreement. You each have individual representation and you meet with your lawyers separately. Additionally, you, your spouse, and your lawyers will likely sign a contract agreeing that you will not go to court. In the event you cannot reach an agreement, lawyers typically withdraw from your case and you will have to get new counsel to litigate your divorce.
If you choose a collaborative divorce, you, your spouse, and both lawyers will meet regularly to negotiate aspects of your separation. Unlike mediation, parties can bring witnesses and experts to support negotiations, such as child custody experts and accountants. This allows you to settle your divorce without having to go in front of a judge.
Considerations as You Part Ways After the Quarantine
Choosing to separate or divorce is never easy and both you and your spouse likely want to move on with your life as swiftly and painlessly as possible. As you choose which divorce process is right for you, consider the following questions:
Do you want your marriage to end respectfully?
Divorces bring out intense emotions that sometimes result in disrespectful behavior and actions that do not uphold our personal integrity. Litigation can drag out and keep these fires burning, making it difficult to walk away on a respectful note for some couples.
Do you need to see yourself as a winner and your spouse as a loser after your divorce?
California is a community property state, so it’s difficult to “stick it to your ex” in court. Taking a rational and fair approach together can often result to the same or similar distribution of assets that a judge will order. Instead of investing money in long, costly litigation, a fair approach allows you and your spouse to more quickly find solid financial footing as you begin your new lives.
Your answer to this question and the answer of most parents going through a separation or divorce is “Yes!” Going through a long, potentially hostile divorce process including fights over assets and custody will have a lasting impact on your children, their relationships with you and your spouse, and their relationships with others. Additionally, the money you spend on litigation could go to support your children in many ways. Finally, modeling how mature adults handle challenges is beneficial to your children in the long-run. Ultimately, choosing mediation or collaboration can help prioritize your children’s short-term and long-term needs.
Get the Legal Help You Need to Make an Amicable Split After Quarantine
If the considerations and process above speak to you and the way you and your spouse want to part ways, contact Pedrick Law Office today online or at 818-325-3934 to discuss the potential for mediation or going through a collaborative divorce process.