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If you and your spouse are separated or are in the midst of divorce proceedings, you may be wondering how the coronavirus pandemic and the related business shut-downs, economic downturns, and other issues will affect your future. Even if it seems like everything is at a standstill, our divorce lawyers in Raleigh are sharing some tips on how to make progress, stay sane, and come through a divorce successfully, during this stressful time.
Determine Your Course of Action
First, know that right now is not a normal time even under the best of circumstances. Getting a divorce is painful and stressful and a pandemic is normally an unimaginable thought. Combining the two may mean you feel overwhelmed, stressed, and filled with worry.
If you are currently in a safe situation (meaning there isn't a threat of domestic violence) but you haven't taken steps toward separating or divorcing, it's okay to take a pause on moving forward with your divorce right now. Consider "nesting," which is basically when one spouse takes on household duties and actively parents for a period of time while the other person stays in another part of the home, then switching out. Creating a schedule of separation together can reduce tension and arguing and can minimize stress on the family unit.
On the other hand, if you and your spouse are separated but haven't filed, know that this time is working for you and going toward your legally required one-year separation, so even if it seems like nothing is happening, you're actually making progress.
If you were in the middle of divorce proceedings and negotiations when everything shut down, it's important to move forward at your comfort level. If you or your spouse need to pause for a few weeks, again, that's perfectly fine. On the other hand, if you would like to continue negotiations and making divorce arrangements, you can discuss this with your divorce attorneys.
The Legal Side of Divorce During Pandemic
North Carolina, along with court systems nationwide, have severely minimized legal proceedings, preferring to postpone most non-essential cases to limit traffic in and out of the courthouses. Fortunately, a simple divorce in which all property division has been settled can be obtained without having to go to into a courtroom, and your divorce attorney may be able to file the paperwork online.
A contested divorce that requires litigation will most likely be postponed for a few months until the courts get back to full functionality. But during this time, you can set up video conferencing with your attorney to discuss your goals and create strategies that will help you get a better outcome from your divorce settlement.
We also want you to know that in North Carolina, along with other states, if you are in danger from a partner and need a restraining order, or there's an emergency related to child custody, those are being processed. It's only non-emergency cases and proceedings that are postponed.
Financial Matters of Divorce
Even when there isn't a pandemic, financial matters related to divorce are complicated. With the economy being uncertain right now, we would recommend you not make any major financial decisions, like selling stocks or trying to put a house on the market until things stabilize a bit. Also, if you are furloghed or unemployed during quarantine, this can be a challenge to creating support payments or setting settlement negotiations.
Your divorce lawyer may be able to help you determine how to separate retirement accounts and other finances, or a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst can be beneficial to help settle issues and even work with you to create a post-divorce budget.
Negotiating Family Matters While You're Separated
If you and your partner are living apart, issues related to child custody may be complicated right now. With shelter-in-place rules, essential employees running high risks for exposure, and child care centers closed, your regular custody routine may be impossible. We recommend erring on the side of caution. If both parents are able to stay in their homes and not go out to work, shared custody can be possible and safe. However, if one parent or someone he or she lives with works in healthcare or an essential business and is out in the public, it may be better to pause staying with that parent until risk has passed.
Maintain contact with video chats, texts, and phone calls, and know this will pass soon.
Contact Our Divorce Attorneys in Raleigh
We know this time is challenging and trying to navigate a divorce during a global pandemic is overwhelming. You don't have to do this alone, though. If you're in Raleigh, schedule a consultation at (919) 301-8843 and we'll do everything possible to make sure you're ready to move forward after the pandemic has passed so you can transition into the next phase of your life.