Divorce has always been messy, ugly, and painful. Navigating a divorce amid COVID-19, however, presents a brand-new set of challenges for couples who choose to go their separate ways.
Conclusions are still being drawn by experts about the effects of the pandemic on our marriages and relationships, because, let’s face it, we’re not out of weeds yet. And while the numbers will continue to become clearer, a recent study revealed a 21% increase in couples initiating divorce in 2021 over 2020.
Most of us probably wouldn’t be surprised by that figure. When the world came to a screeching halt in March of 2020, we were thrust into foreign new routines with little time to adjust. In some households, couples found themselves working elbow-to-elbow at the same dining room table for hours on end. In others, struggles popped up about how to keep restless children engaged in online school. And for still others, the loss of one partner’s stream of income meant reducing a comfortable lifestyle overnight.
Change is always difficult to manage, even in the healthiest of relationships. But for many, the whirlwind of changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic drove the wedge deeper between struggling couples and further exacerbated already existing marital woes.
And although no one likes the “d” word, divorce is sometimes the healthiest option – especially when the marriage begins to negatively affect your physical, mental, and emotional health.
As a financial planner and money coach who specializes in divorce, I’ve had the opportunity to walk thousands of women through some of the most challenging seasons of their lives. As we continue to manage and mitigate the fallout from the pandemic, here are a few things to keep in mind if you are considering divorce during this unprecedented time:
If Your Relationship is Abusive or Unhealthy, Leave Now
Fear can immobilize us. Your mind may scream that you cannot get a divorce in the middle of the pandemic because there are too many unknowns, but this simply isn’t true. You have the power to change your life on your time and your schedule. If your relationship has become abusive or unhealthy, waiting for things to return to “normal” when the pandemic ends is a false solution and one that could be dangerous for you in the long run. I know because I’ve been there – more on that below. You can also call 800-799-SAFE (7233) for confidential support and help.
Getting Court/Legal Appointments Might Be Easier Than You Think
There’s a misconception about the current availability of legal, financial, and mediation services. Many courthouses and attorneys are running full-steam online, even if they’ve reduced in-person hours and options. Scheduling key appointments on Zoom means less driving, less hassle, and less stress – you don’t even have to change out of your yoga pants. While most of us don’t particularly love virtual meetings, in this case, moving some of your proceedings to digital spaces affords convenience and privacy.
The Financial Impacts of Your Divorce Can’t Be Ignored
There’s a tendency to want to pull the covers over our heads about the finances. However, as your divorce looms, some hard financial decisions will need to be made. Statistics show that to maintain the same lifestyle you had before your divorce, you may need up to a 30% increase in income or revenue. And while that can sound daunting, especially amid an uncertain economy, it can also be an opportunity to shore up your foundations and discover new streams of income for yourself. A seasoned financial planner can help you put the appropriate puzzle pieces in place.
Don’t Go It Alone
Too many women try to go it alone. We’re used to being the ones who keep it all together; the ones who fix scraped knees and feed hungry bellies and make special occasions shine. But by isolating yourself, you run the risk of digging a deeper hole to climb out of down the road – especially when it comes to rebuilding your life after divorce. Admitting that you’re facing down a challenging season and honoring that journey is the first step. The second is being brave and reaching out to your network of friends, family, and professionals for help. You may be surprised at the wave of support that washes over you when you connect with the right resources.
The bottom line? People are going through unique relational, financial, and interpersonal challenges right now that put an extra layer over the already-complicated process of divorce. If that’s you or someone you know, I get it.
Over 20 years ago, I found myself trapped in a volatile marriage marked by mental, emotional, and physical abuse. The relationship imploded, thankfully, but left me broken and my abuser imprisoned. At the time, I had no job, no child support, and no money to keep my family afloat. I did not know who to turn to for guidance or how to pick up the pieces of my life. I felt completely lost and isolated.
That was over 20 years ago. I am no longer a victim; I am a victory.
Today, as a Transformational Life & Money Coach, consultant, author, and speaker, I empower women going through life-changing events to gain control over their lives and finances. I’ve helped hundreds of women manage their toughest seasons victoriously: divorce, loss of a spouse, career transitions, and retirement. My clients become equipped with the mindset, motivation, and money confidence necessary to live a truly epic life. A life on their terms.
If you’re standing at the brink of a divorce (or have recently filed for or completed one), let’s talk. To learn more about how we can work together, visit my website at https://www.swanfinancialadvisors.com/ or connect with me on social media.