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How COVID-19 May Have Made Your Divorce Easier

How COVID-19 May Have Made Your Divorce Easier

The pandemic brought sudden and stressful changes to almost every aspect of our lives. For some couples, this meant being forced to abruptly alter work routines while adapting to children’s virtual school schedules, enduring economic stress, and managing severe illnesses. With social distancing, supportive family members and loved ones may have been prevented from helping to ease the burden of these new obligations. This situation has been difficult, and some marriages have not been able to withstand the strain. In some cases, however, the pandemic may have made divorce less stressful. Here is how COVID-19 may have made your divorce easier.

You Had to Move Forward More Quickly

If you and your spouse were already having issues, the pandemic probably made things worse. Even though it was difficult, having COVID-related stressors may have moved up your timeline. It could be that you were resisting the divorce for a variety of reasons, such as not wanting to give up, being worried about the stigma of divorce, being concerned about the impact of divorce on your children, or worrying about disappointing your family. But deep down, you may have known that your marriage was over, and the longer you remained married the unhappier you were going to be. Your relationship could have dragged on for several months or even years. When the COVID-19 outbreak hit with all its stressors, your marriage probably reached a breaking point. Perhaps this pushed you both to get on with your life much sooner than you would have without these stressors.

The Process May Have Been Less Intimidating

In March Wisconsin divorce courts closed their doors in response to the pandemic. Since then, many have reopened and have been conducting hearings through video and teleconferencing. Others are having in-person settings with the parties observing social-distancing protocols. Some courts even allow divorce by affidavit when both parties are represented by counsel. The settlement documents are submitted electronically, and the parties simply sign an affidavit saying they want the divorce without going to court. For some, resolving their case over a phone, video, or through a Plexiglas divider is much less intimidating than a traditional in-person divorce proceeding. And filing by affidavit and avoiding court altogether is often preferred in higher conflict cases, when the parties don’t want to see each other at all. COVID-19 created the opportunity for these lower-stress processes.

Circumstances May Have Created an Incentive to Settle

When the courts closed temporarily most cases were delayed and rescheduled. Getting back on the dockets has been challenging, especially in larger counties. In some cases, those looking to schedule a final hearing or any other proceeding may have had to wait several months. Most Wisconsin divorces are settled outside of court. That being said, having a pending trial date can be a powerful motivating factor for settlement. Parties often choose to settle rather than face the unknown in court. However, having to wait longer to get into court because of COVD-19 closures may have also helped to create an incentive for parties to settle, since trial dates were pushed off so far ahead. You and your ex may have decided it was better to agree rather than wait for a court date.

It May Have Forced You to Set Your Issues Aside for Your Kids

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on everyone's lives, but your kids may be carrying a particularly heavy burden. Not only have their social lives and school attendance been completely turned upside down, but they also have less control over their surroundings than ever before. Depending on their ages and emotional maturity, explaining the pandemic's complex issues and convincing them to curtail their natural behaviors can seem impossible. This is an incredibly stressful time for kids, and having their parents split up could make a bad situation worse. You and your ex may have opted to set aside your differences for the sake of supporting your kids through this stressful time. In doing so, you started to build the foundation for a positive co-parenting relationship. This cooperative effort may not have happened without the common goal of supporting your kids through the pandemic.

Consult with an Experienced Wisconsin Family Law Attorney

Respectful divorce attorney and mediator Karyn Youso of First Look Family Law has extensive experience helping Wisconsin clients evaluate their circumstances and understand their choices during divorce. Come in, and let us take a "first look" at your situation so you can figure out your next steps. Please call us today to set up a time to meet.