Divorce and In-Home Separation Tips During the COVID-19 Lockdown
Uncontested Divorce Mediation
Posted May 8, 2020
Divorce is always a serious business. Maybe one day you’ll be able to look back and laugh at all the stress and decisions and logistical hoop-jumping required but in the moment, nothing could be more deadly serious than the need to separate from an unpleasant relationship. And nothing brings that more into focus than an enforced stay-at-home lockdown.
Right now, there are thousands of couples stuck sharing a home who would rather be divorced than sheltering in place together. This can be an incredibly challenging situation. Divorcing couples who have not yet moved apart often survive through distance and through leaving the house. Your time at work, with friends, and eating dinner away from each other is essential to keeping the peace. So the coronavirus stay-at-home conditions are more than a little problematic.
Here at Split Simple, we understand the challenges you’re going through and are here to help. Believe it or not, both of you can continue to take the necessary steps for separation and sanity during this trying time, and we’ve put together a few tips to help you along that path.
1) Your Side – My Side: Sign a Peace Treaty
The first and best thing you can do is become allies in your enmity. What this means is that you agree to disagree, and to do everything you can to give each other space. You may be ready for a divorce, but current conditions have taken the situation of out both of your hands. It’s not your fault or theirs, so you might as well work together to achieve what you both want: peace away from each other.
It helps to agree (and shake or sign) on certain terms. If you have split the house, make it official. You agree not to enter their current bedroom or bathroom, they agree not to enter yours. If there’s been some “I have to grab…” back-and-forth, finish that sorting to keep things separate.
Agree to share meals, or to cook separately while leaving the other’s ingredients alone. Agree to share TV time at opposite ends of the room or to schedule who watches what when. Agree not to sing show-tunes loudly in the shower if they agree to stop whistling television theme songs in the kitchen. Then stick to those agreements to keep the peace.
2) Split Your Schedule to Create Alone-Time
You both need time alone, it’s probably a major part of your plan to get divorced. So do your best to give each other that time by building a schedule. A schedule can help you stop bumping into each other and getting on each other’s nerves. They may need the living room space for a daily workout, for example, and you can use that time in your bedroom or in the backyard doing something completely else. You may need the kitchen to prep a week of ingredients, and a schedule ensures your ex knows when to secure snacks early and stay out.
3) How to Safely Leave the House
It’s not widely advertised, but you are actually safe to walk out your front door and down the block. As long as you don’t touch anything or come within 6 feet of another person, nature holds no COVID for you to fear. You can go for a run, take the dog for a walk, or just breathe free air far from your soon-to-be-ex for an hour. You can take yourself to the park or just walk around the block. You can exercise or find a nice grassy spot and take an outdoor nap.
This is especially important for ex-couples who are sharing a small home or an apartment or townhouse without a yard to escape.
4) Keep Each Other Sane, If Possible
If you and your spouse are not on the last nerve, consider a truce for sanity’s sake. After a month of lockdown (or more), you’re both probably going a little stir-crazy and may be socially starved without coworkers or friends to see each day. It can help just to be in the presence of another human. So if you’re temporarily on good terms, or if your divorce reasons are amicable, then we actually encourage you to spend time with your ex.
Watch a few episodes of something together or share a movie. Build forts out of furniture and have a nerf fight. Human companionship inside the home is important right now. So if you can stand it, and if you’re on relatively good terms, work with your ex to stay sane. Maybe even have a little fun.
5) Separate Anyway: Apartment Hunting During COVID
Alternatively, you can also continue with your separation plans. Believe it or not, the real estate industry isn’t completely stopped and those with homes on-offer are a little desperate to get renters/buyers on the line. If you or your spouse was planning to move out soon to begin separation, you can still do that. You’ll just need to be a little more tenacious to find the apartments and services that are still functioning to get the job done.
Search online, send emails, and make a few calls. You can absolutely virtual-tour a home, get a no-contact inspection, and even hire no-contact movers or get a Uhaul to complete the move. You and your spouse can absolutely separate effectively during COVID. That said, from experience, your biggest challenge will likely be the utility companies. But isn’t that always the way?
6) Get in Touch with a Divorce Mediator Remotely
Finally, you can even get your official divorce proceedings underway. Divorce mediation is one of the most affordable and productive forms of divorce, and you can conduct it from the safety of your own home. Divorce mediation occurs when a mediator and legal advisor sits down with a divorcing couple to talk things out. Together, you work out the most agreeable terms of the divorce. Your mediator will guide you through the big-picture decisions and the small legal details. Then they draw up the legal documents that enact those agreements, and voila, a divorce is filed.
All this can be done remotely through live video chat almost as easily as sharing a mediation room. No-contact divorce mediation is safe, fast, and focused on creating the best divorce terms for both spouses and for long-term happiness.