Family Law specialists and therapists predict a surge in separation and divorce consultations as shelter-in-place restrictions are lifted.
There are probably two common reasons for this:
First, many couples had no choice but to “tough it out” through the past few months, even if the decision to separate had already been made by one or both people. With the sudden arrival of COVID-19, couples were forced to “nest” despite their desire to separate.
Second, the stress and strain of the quarantine might be the final straw for couples whose relationship is already fragile. The financial strain of job loss or working from home, with the pressures of family togetherness, home-schooling their children, health crises due to exposure to the virus or illness (or fear of that), in a troubled marriage might cause one or both people to reach their limit and decide to separate.
You may have been intrigued by the idea of nesting even as the quarantine ends. If you can create a structure that keeps the children at home, while you and spouse alternate on- and off-duty, the transition to a full separation will be easier for you and especially for your children.
Whether you or your spouse decided to separate or divorce, with quarantine ending you may find yourselves facing a decision about how your marriage will end. You may talk to friends and family, and hear unsolicited advice or horror stories from well-intentioned people who have been divorced. You may talk to your therapist, clergy, or doctor. You may be angry, sad, and anxious, in pain, and worried about your children. You know that making a quick decision in a crisis is generally not a good approach.
Litigation is the default divorce process, but this is the most destructive way to go unless you absolutely need a judge to make decisions for your family. Choosing an alternative dispute resolution process for you and your family is one of the most important decisions you and your spouse can make. Here are some questions to consider when you think about choosing your divorce process:
- Do you want to end your marriage with respect and integrity?
- Is taking a rational and fair approach to dividing your assets more important than seeing yourself as a winner and your spouse as the loser in this process?
- Are your children the most important aspect in this process?
- Is saving money, which could go to you or your children more important than spending it on protracted litigation?
- Do you want to model for yourself, your spouse and your children how mature adults handle significant challenges?
- Do you want to recover and move on without lasting damage to you or your children?
If your answer is “yes” to these questions, consider having a consultation with a Collaboratively trained professional to see if the Collaborative process is right for you. A Collaborative Divorce can help you restructure your family in a way that allows you and your family to recover and heal.
–Ann Gold Buscho, Ph.D. is the author of The Parent’s Guide to Birdnesting, a licensed psychologist and Collaborative Coach in Marin County, California.
Copyright © Ann Gold Buscho 2020
A version of this story, which addressed the January spike in divorces, was published on January 2, 2014 on collaborativepracticemarin.org.