COVID-19 has changed life for so many of us. Many have lost jobs and others have had to change plans as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Couples who were planning to get divorced before the COVID-19 pandemic peaked, have had to delay their plans or change their plans. Some couples have expressed concerns about the stress of having to continue to live with their former partner during the pandemic, and other couples have chosen to continue to live together so that both parents can continue to have time with the children without the risk of shuttling a child between two homes. The financial reality of COVID-19 has left some couples with no option but to continue living in the same home together. This has forced other couples to delay putting their home on the market, and has caused some couples to re-evaluate their divorce plans. NPR reported on one couple that chose to weather the storm of social distancing together, even though they were in the process of filing for divorce. The couple made the decision for their child, hoping that by living together, they could reduce the stress of the pandemic on their son.
However, the pandemic alone shouldn’t be a reason why couples need to live together if the marriage is over. Courts have mandated that divorced couples continue to honor their parenting plans, which means that if you already live apart and have a parenting plan in place, you should continue to honor it, while taking steps to prevent the spread of the virus. For couples where both parents are socially distancing or working from home during the pandemic, this shouldn’t be too challenging, but for couples where one partner is a doctor, emergency worker, or essential worker, this is a time for parents to have discussions about what is best for the children. Ultimately, the courts generally will favor honoring the arrangement in place. That said, some parents have chosen to make changes due to this emergency. Ultimately, every family will need to find an arrangement that works best for them.
What can you do if due to financial reasons or due to the pandemic, you have had to continue to share a home with a partner while going through your divorce? There are things couples can do to reduce the stress. Some might choose to relegate themselves to their own room, or schedule time when they each can use shared spaces like the kitchen. Even during lockdown, or during times when many places remain closed, outdoor recreation remains an accessible and safe option. Choosing safe activities you can pursue outside the home will be paramount to maintaining sanity during this time.
Finally, if you plan to share living quarters for the time being, having a plan in place for what will happen to the family home when the emergency has passed is a good idea. And what will constitute the “emergency passing”? We are likely to be living with COVID-19 in our lives for many months going forward, with financial uncertainty likely for months to come. Having these tough discussions now can help you better plan ahead.
Ballard Law, PLLC is a Jackson, Mississippi divorce law firm that can help you address some of these tough questions. We can work with you to help you problem-solve these issues so that you can move forward with your divorce, and your life, as soon as possible. Contact the Jackson, Mississippi divorce lawyers at Ballard Law, PLLC today or reach out to USAttorneys.com to get matched with a lawyer at Ballard Law, PLLC today.