While there has been a lot of speculation that the quarantine caused by COVID19 will cause an increase in divorce filings, that has yet to be seen (at least in my office). I think that in times of uncertainty, extreme stress, and threat to health and safety, most people maintain the status quo and will not make major life decisions.
However, I do think that that for those with an already stressed marriage, the additional financial and emotional stressors caused by the quarantine will be the last straw and a motivating factor to file for divorce. But is now (or immediately following the pandemic) a good time to file for divorce? Maybe, maybe not. Here are just a few things to consider:
1. Retirement and investment accounts: Many retirement and investment accounts have been hit extremely hard by the downturn in the market. In California, your spouse is presumed to be entitled to one-half of the retirement and investment account funds earned or contributed during marriage (including the gains and losses). If you have a big loss due to COVID19, you may consider if it would be more or less beneficial for you to file for divorce now or when the market recovers (but when will that be?) You definitely want to discuss pros and cons with both your attorney and a financial advisor or accountant.
2. Spousal support: If you have lost your job and have no income, your spousal support obligation will likely be a lot lower than when you were employed or may even reduce your support obligation to zero in some instances. On the other side of that, if you had a high earning spouse but their job/industry has been negatively impacted by the pandemic, you could receive significantly less spousal support.
3. Child custody: Many employers have transitioned their workforce to work from home. There is speculation that some employers may keep their employees working from home because it is more cost effective and they will be looking to cut corners when the pandemic is over. If one parent is able to work from home, is no longer working, or has a more flexible schedule, are things to consider when making child custody orders.
COVID19 has made the world more complicated, and divorce is no exception. This is a hard time for many, both emotionally and financially. If you do plan to file for divorce once we are no longer social distancing and self-quarantining, consider the impacts caused by COVID19.