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Social Distancing and Divorce

At this point, you’ve likely seen any or all of the following, lighthearted posts on social media. The basketball fan who cannot indulge in March Madness because the NCAA indefinitely suspended the remainder of the season, and is now faced with actual conversation with his significant other. The employee whose office implemented a thirty-day remote schedule, and her idea of remote work consists of watching reruns of “The Office.” The forlorn parents who, on day two of schools being closed, are ready to send all of their children back to school.

This is social distancing.

In order to swiftly and directly address the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) recommends that individuals practice social distancing, or maintaining a distance of at least six feet from other people and avoiding direct contact with people or objects in public spaces. Examples of social distancing, in addition to the satirical instances above, include colleges and/or universities swapping in-person lectures for online classes, people forgoing visiting family members in person and instead using electronic means to communicate, and canceling or postponing large group events such as conferences and concerts. The main idea behind social distancing is to stop or slow the spread of COVID-19 within a community.

What effect does social distancing have on divorcing couples who still remain under the same roof?

Couples who decide to proceed with a divorce may continue to live together out of necessity or convenience. It may be necessary for one or both of the parties to remain under the same roof because moving into a separate dwelling is not economically or currently pragmatically feasible. Alternatively, it may be convenient for the parties to live together post-filing for the sake of ease in executing a temporary parenting plan. One reason why post-filing cohabitation may be successful for some is the freedom of the parties to leave the house, especially when it means avoiding any potential conflict. The concern here is when that freedom is restrained, such as when a divorcing couple is practicing social distancing.

Just because you are honoring the advice of the CDC and keeping your distance, does not mean you are without options to resolving divorce-related turmoil. Contact a nearby divorce mediator to inquire into whether mediation can be held via teleconference. Search for a counselor who specifically works with divorcing couples and see if said counselor is willing to conduct sessions over video chat. Last but not least, schedule a phone or video consult with a law firm, such as The Manely Firm, P.C., to get a more in-depth assessment as to the best course of action.

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