Divorce During a Crisis
What if you are QUARANTINED WITH YOUR SOON TO BE EX, or financially forced to continue living with your spouse, having recently initiated the divorce or in the process of getting a divorce? What should you do if you are still living at home until the divorce is finalized? The stress of the quarantine piles on more stress as you face an uncertain future. Meetings are canceled, courts are closed, you can’t meet in person with your professionals (attorneys, therapists, financial specialists, etc.) when you are confined to your home. It feels overwhelming to try to manage it all. When your divorce coach or therapist suggests a video session or a conference call, you wonder how you can possibly do that with your kids confined to the house. The uncertainties of work, fluctuation or drops in home values, and a sinking economy present a challenge when you are trying to negotiate a Marital Settlement Agreement.
10 Tips to help you through this time of hardship – Divorce during a crisis
- First, it is most important to take care of yourself. Find ways to connect with friends by phone. Take a walk in a quiet area in nature. Take time to slow down and breathe. Disconnect from news sources as much as possible.
- If you have kids, give them as much information as they can absorb (depending on their ages). Reassure them that this will pass. Even if you feel frightened about how this will unfold, don’t MAKE THE SITUATION WORSE BY EMPHASISING HOW BAD THE SITUATION IS with your kids.
- Make a list of all the things you’ve been meaning to do and start to work down that list. Finish home projects, read a book, stream a movie, make and deliver food for a neighbor.
- Don’t make impulsive decisions such as selling your stocks or shopping online. Boredom might lure you into unhealthy coping, such as drinking or overeating. Social media might be helpful. Try to stay active, call friends for “tea dates” by phone. Start writing a journal. Don’t overlook the silver lining: more time with your kids, more time to relax, cleaning and organizing your house. This is an opportunity to build some trust and goodwill with your spouse, if you can find ways to express appreciation or compassion.
- Discuss ways to proceed with your professionals. If you and your spouse want to stop the legal process for a while, you can do that. Agree to pause before trying to settle major financial issues. No big decisions in a crisis and this is a crisis. Give yourself space in the house and respect each other’s privacy. Don’t follow each other around and fight!
- If you would like to continue working on the divorce, discuss what is realistic. Tele-conference calls and Video conference calls can be an effective way to have group meetings. Many lawyers are accustomed to video conference calls.
- If you are not already working with a CDFA (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst) consider consulting with one now. With all the economic uncertainties, you’ll need help with budgeting and settling financial issues such as spousal support, child support, and division of assets and debts.
- Get support. One client (with teenaged children) had a FaceTime call with her therapist from her car in the garage. You can work with a divorce coach to help you through the divorce process.
- If you are still living with your spouse, wishing you could separate, you can create an on- and off-duty parenting schedule so that you each get a break, and you will be less triggered by your spouse. You can read more about nesting here.
- If you have been sharing time with your children, discuss whether your kids will be quarantined at one parent’s home or the other’s. It may also be possible to keep to your time-sharing schedule as the quarantine may allow the transfer of your children from one home to the other.
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*Original article published on psychologytoday.com