Divorce And The Second Wave of COVID-19: Why Now is The Time to Seek Information

It’s been a gruelling four months.

We’ve all been grappling with the stress of lockdowns, social distancing, homeschooling, food shortages, scary news stories, and government emergency declarations.

It’s unprecedented in world history. Just think about the context of that sentence; the world has never seen anything like this, primarily because of the interconnected nature of modern society.

So it’s no wonder the pressure on couples has been intense and often quite revealing.

People have had time to reflect on their lives, their status, their level of happiness, and mortality.

If you’ve found yourself contemplating separation or divorce during these moments, don’t feel guilt or shame, as you are not alone.

The calls to my Toronto law firm are now 100 per cent related to issues brought to life by COVID-19’s oppressive impact. Other family lawyers are experiencing increases too.

And now, we appear to be entering what health experts believe will be an in-between phase ahead of a Second Wave.

Emergency orders are lifting, social circles are re-forming, and so many of us are eyeing a metaphorical “exit sign” that leads us back to the outside world we took for granted before March 16th.

The window of isolation-induced reflection is closing. The window of opportunity is opening.

Now is the time to make the calls and do the research you’ve been considering during the pandemic stay-at-home orders. See your dentist, up-date your prescription eyeglasses, and yes, contact a family lawyer for guidance if you feel the need to explore separation or divorce.

Information is power. As I tell anyone considering divorce, the two most important decisions you make pertain to choosing the right process and the right lawyer. Even if all you need is a consultation, the proactive step can bring you peace of mind.

Collaborative Law has shown its benefits and strengths these past few months. This is because collaborative lawyers establish a process their clients follow to resolve just about any dispute.

It eliminates the need to go to court to hammer out agreements on support payments, parenting time, decision-making responsibility, assets, and even who gets the dog.

We have counselled thousands of couples through a family break-up. It’s not easy for anyone. That’s why my firm assembles a collaborative-law TEAM comprised of lawyers, a social worker, and a financial neutral.

The social worker focuses on the kids, who let’s face it, are the most important figures in the process when children are involved.

The financial neutral navigates the complexities of family assets and income, projecting various scenarios well into the future, allowing the spouses to have long term stability and predictability.

The courts have mostly been closed to all but the most urgent of cases. That’s kept many couples on the sidelines, waiting for their disputes to be heard and decided by a judge. But our collaborative process is based upon a pledge by both spouses NOT to pursue the expensive option of court proceedings.

So we’ve been able to resolve issues that have arisen during COVID-19.

The court backlog is now at least 3 to 4 months and expected to grow as the surge of cases related to the pandemic begins to enter the system. The writing is on the wall. The Family Law system is facing a significant challenge as it struggles to help resolve issues that are devastating to families and causing so much pain.

Take this lull in the pandemic restrictions to arm yourself with information. What are your options? How long does it take? How do I protect the children? How much will it cost? Do I really want to do this?

All of these questions are important. And all of them have answers.

Soon, the euphoria we experience as things open up will gradually subside as we enter the annual flu season, as kids go back to school and parents worry about what used to be ..a simple runny nose. The stresses will return and we all hope the lockdowns do not.

In the meantime, there is a window of opportunity to learn and grow and explore the things you thought about during isolation.

Remember, it’s ok to ask questions, even if you haven’t made any decisions.

Don’t let the Second Wave catch you off-guard.

We should all be prepared.

Anna-Marie Musson

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