If you were preparing for divorce in early March, then the pandemic most definitely stalled your plans. When COVID-19 put New York on pause, everyone was ordered to shelter in place, and the court system was limited to non-urgent matters.
If the lockdown took effect before you and your spouse had the chance to separate, then you’re probably still living under the same roof. It’s a challenging situation that’s affecting hundreds of divorcing couples: not only do you have to cohabitate and co-parent without turning the home into a daily battleground, but you’re also dealing with worry and uncertainty about the future.
It’s a situation that can turn any home into a pressure cooker, and reports of domestic violence have surged across New York. If you and your children are in danger, then don’t suffer in silence until the lockdown is lifted: call the police and seek an emergency court order. Otherwise, there are measures you can take to sustain your emotional well-being until you can move forward with the divorce.
Think about the children
Commit to thinking about your children first. They don’t always say anything, but they do notice when their parents aren’t getting along. Talk to your spouse about keeping all disagreements civil and out of the children’s earshot. Remember that they learn coping mechanisms from their parents, so focus on providing a good example in times of adversity.
Create a routine
Establish a routine that creates as much separation between you and your spouse as possible. Examples include:
- One of you moving into a separate bedroom or sleeping area
- Separate mealtimes
- Taking turns caring for the children
When the courts reopen, you’ll have a better idea of how to live apart while effectively communicating and sharing child care responsibilities.
Take care of yourself
Sheltering in place provides you with a rare opportunity to practice deeper self-awareness. When you start taking care of yourself and understanding your needs, you will learn to respond to difficulties instead of blindly reacting and make better choices for yourself and your family.
Recommended steps include:
- Writing in a journal: Channel any grief or anger over the demise of your relationship into a journal instead of taking it out on your spouse. To ensure privacy, use an online journal with password protection.
- Meditate: When it’s your spouse’s turn to take the kids for a walk or play with them in the yard, enjoy a 20-minute meditation. Research has shown that meditation has a beneficial effect on anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and similar conditions.
- Exercise and eat well: Try to get outside for at least 10 to 15 minutes every day. Take a walk, go for a bike ride, or play with the kids. Cut out alcohol and sugary, processed foods, which won’t give you the energy you need to cope with the current crisis.
- See a therapist: Many mental health professionals are offering online appointments. If you’re having a hard time coping, then counseling can help you master wellness strategies and stay focused.
Remember: the restrictions imposed by coronavirus are only temporary. Once they’re over and your divorce can proceed, you and, hopefully, your spouse will have mastered coping mechanisms that help you meet future challenges with resilience and fortitude.
About Jayson Lutzky, P.C.
If you have questions about divorce, then contact Jayson Lutzky, P.C. We are a Bronx divorce law firm offering free initial consultations. Phone and video consultations are available during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr. Lutzky has over 37 years of legal experience and has helped many highly satisfied clients over the years. Call 718-329-9500 to set up a time to talk about your options and visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com/Divorce to learn more.