What are the challenges of divorcing during a pandemic?

After spending more time with your spouse while sheltering in place, you may have found that your marriage has become untenable. You are far from alone in your discovery, since divorce rates have risen since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Yet, you may wonder whether proceeding with a divorce right now makes sense. While it might, you will want to keep these special considerations in mind.

Child custody

If you and your spouse have children, your parenting plan must account for the pandemic. For one, you will need to consider whether both of you take precautions against COVID-19. One of you might follow public health guidelines religiously, yet the other might act as if the pandemic were over. Or, one of you may be an essential worker who interacts with many other people each day. In these cases, you may want to explore virtual visitation options for the parent – whether you or your spouse – who is at a higher risk until the pandemic ends. Regardless, you must account for what will happen if you or your spouse contracts COVID-19 and how it could affect your parenting schedule.

You and your spouse must also reach consensus about how you will limit your children’s odds of exposure to COVID-19. Co-parenting will be far easier if you can agree on whether it is safe for them to take part in in-person learning or go on play dates.

Property division and support

You and your spouse may decide to sell your family home during your divorce. Yet, you two are likely concerned about the pandemic’s impact on the housing market, and whether you will receive a fair offer. The housing market, though, currently favors sellers, and you are more likely to face a bidding war for your home than a lack of offers.

You or your spouse may also have lost your job due to the recession caused by the pandemic. If one of you is without income, this could affect the value of your child support and alimony awards, as well as who pays them. In many states, you or your spouse’s job loss might also impact the share of property you receive. Yet, Wisconsin is a community property state, and you two will divide your marital assets 50/50. State courts can deviate from this guideline, though, if they believe your circumstances warrant it.

Conducting proceedings

Due to the pandemic, your divorce may take longer than it would otherwise. Courts throughout Wisconsin have case backlogs, which could delay proceedings by months. If you and your spouse can cooperate with each other, you may want to work out parts of your divorce together. Doing so could quicken the process and will give you more leeway in negotiating custody, property division and support.

The pandemic has made navigating divorce far trickier than before. By seeking legal help, you can make sure that all the exceptional variables at play are accounted for.