The quarantine imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic appears to have had a detrimental impact on already troubled marriages. Divorce rates are going up, which shows that couples who previously enjoyed ample time apart have not reacted well to long hours under the same roof. In Xi’an, China, divorce requests multiplied so fast that appointment slots at local governmental offices have maxed out.
New York State Courts are currently closed for all non-essential functions. Does this mean that if you and your spouse have decided to divorce, everything is on hold?
Not quite. If you and your spouse are willing to work together, there are a lot of things that you can take care of together until the family court system resumes regular operations. Let’s take a closer look at some of them.
Make an illness contingency plan
While quarantine and social distancing will reduce your chances of contracting Coronavirus, it’s always a good idea to have a worst-case scenario. What if one or both of you becomes ill with COVID-19? Who will take care of your children? Or one of the kids comes down with it- which parent will be their primary caregiver? Now is the time to reach an agreement on these issues.
Agree on a custody arrangement
With social distancing in place, schools and daycares are closed, which makes child care arrangements complicated. Sit down with your spouse and try to agree on the best custody and visitation arrangement given your respective employment situations. You don’t have to reach a permanent schedule right now, but the sooner you can come to a temporary arrangement, the better.
Talk about asset division
Work together to itemize all of your assets and debts. Include items that were held separately prior to the marriage but may have become part of the marital estate, such as separately-owned property that was upgraded or repaired using marital funds. Make a list and gather any relevant documentation, such as mortgage paperwork, bills of sale, and bank statements.
Contact a New York divorce lawyer
Like many professionals, attorneys are working remotely at the moment, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be contacted. Divorce attorneys are communicating with clients through Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, and other video conferencing software, and they’re all answering their phones. You can interview different professionals before deciding on one, sign the retainer agreement electronically, and pay the retainer via credit card or whatever other electronic payments the lawyer accepts. While it may seem like regular life has ground to a halt, the truth is that there are still ways to accomplish important matters in your life, including divorce. Your New York divorce attorney can counsel you on appropriate steps to take during the period of social distancing and after it ends.
Jayson Lutzky is a Bronx, NY divorce and family court attorney with over 36 years of legal experience. He has helped many clients with child custody and visitation matters over the years. To reach Mr. Lutzky’s office, call 718-329-9500. To read more about law issues related to the coronavirus, click here.