Divorce and Coronavirus: Three Factors To Consider For Whether You Should You Wait

Your divorce process may just be starting. Or maybe you were contemplating divorce and the wave of coronavirus-related issues has given you pause.

You may be wondering if you should just wait out the virus before moving forward with your divorce.

Here a three factors to consider about whether it makes sense to wait with your divorce.

Factor #1 - Health Issues

Health Insurance Availability and Cost

If you are getting divorced and have been covered under your spouse’s health insurance plan, under the COBRA law you may choose to continue your health insurance coverage with that same plan for a period of up to 36 months. But can you afford the COBRA extension? The monthly costs of remaining on that same health plan vary depending on the plan.

Factor #2 - Financial Issues

Job and Income Loss

For most people, divorce tends to be a financial strain. Supporting two homes instead of one home with the same income(s) result in additional expenses. However, the coronavirus pandemic will result in millions of people losing income from unpaid sick leave, lower sales, or even losing entire jobs. If you or your spouse are likely to lose income, you may question the timing of your divorce. Will you both be able to pay rent? Buy groceries? The U.S. government will provide some form of financial support for affected employees and businesses. Will that apply to your family and be enough to get by?

However, these additional expenses for supporting two homes can be minimized if you are creative and flexible. Many cohabitating spouses entering divorce may continue to share the home. Even without a divorce, many people will need to creatively reduce their housing and living expenses in the age of the coronavirus.

Loss of Wealth

If your marital wealth is held in stocks or market-based mutual funds, you may have already experienced a drop in the value of your assets. Should you stall the divorce until the coronavirus economic effect has passed? Since marital assets are generally equally divided, a market decline or crash would not be a reason to postpone your divorce. If you each walk with half of the devalued stocks when the market recovers each of your stocks will similarly increase in value.

Factor #3 - Settlement Issues

Open Courts

In a number of states (including South Dakota), the judges and other court personnel are working remotely. Any new or scheduled cases that involve oral argument may being postponed. 

Child Support

If you or your spouse are losing income, this may impact child support obligations. When either of your incomes increase or decrease, your child support should be adjusted accordingly.

So, do I wait or complete the divorce?

Of course, there is not a perfect "yes" or "no" answer to this question. Rather, the answer depends on your personal, family and economic situation. After reviewing the factors in this article, you will have the best sense of how to move forward.

Brooke Swier Schloss
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Family Law and Estate Planning attorney helping families across South Dakota plan and protect their loved ones