Deciding to file for divorce can be one of the most taxing and emotional decisions in your life. After making the difficult decision to file for divorce, there is often a challenging process ahead to dissolve the marriage.
When you combine filing for divorce during a “once-in-a-lifetime” global pandemic, an already challenging process can be made even more daunting. From delays to unexpected financial turmoil, COVID has caused a chain of effects for those filing for divorce and going through the divorce process.
Changes to the Divorce Process Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic
While divorce laws haven’t changed due to COVID, the courts have changed their operations in response to the pandemic. This has affected the legal divorce process in countless countries, including Canada. Additionally, the pandemic has added a financial burden on many people. This has led to unique issues with child support and spousal support for divorcing or divorced spouses.
During normal times, courts experience backlogs and delays in scheduled hearings. This is particularly true for family courts. However, amid a pandemic, family courts are experiencing increased difficulty keeping up with their already crowded court schedules. In addition to packed schedules, the courts are also dealing with staffing shortages while maintaining a safe environment for staff and patrons. Because of these new complications, many courts have moved to virtual hearings and electronic filings.
If spouses who were divorcing at the height of the pandemic were unable to come to an agreement on dividing their property and determining spousal support, child support, and/or child custody through alternative resolution methods, the courts would have to decide these issues. However, courts have been severely backlogged due to the pandemic. Because of this, many spouses have faced delays in having divorce-related issues resolved and their divorces finalized.
Some courts may have gone back to similar pre-pandemic operations. But many spouses may continue to encounter more abnormal delays or changes as courts remain adaptive to the uncertain state of the pandemic.
Financial effects are one of the biggest consequences of the COVID pandemic. In particular, parents have juggled school closures, inconsistent child-care, and decreased income or unemployment, upending the daily lives of countless parents and children. This has placed an unprecedented financial burden on parents overall.
Child support is one of the most difficult issues to resolve in a divorce. After child support is decided in a divorce, it’s unrealistic to assume that parents’ circumstances will remain the same, especially in a pandemic. If either parent’s financial circumstances were affected by the pandemic and their ability to either support their children or pay child support changed, they might have to seek legal recourse to modify their child support agreement. It’s important to pursue a legal modification of child support. There are legal ramifications of non-payment of child support. Additionally, it is detrimental to the child’s wellbeing if the parent with primary custody is struggling to care for the child financially.
Similar to child support, the pandemic has also affected the issue of spousal support. When spousal support was determined in a divorce, circumstances for both the receiving and paying spouses may have been very different. If the pandemic has negatively impacted either spouse’s employment and financial status, the receiving spouse may need greater financial support. Alternatively, the paying spouse may need relief from spousal support payments. It’s best to seek court intervention for any modifications to spousal support agreements or orders previously granted by the court.
Carmichael Law Professional Corporation Can Help with Your Divorce
If you’re dealing with issues with your divorce as a result of the pandemic or if you’re currently considering divorce in Canada, contact the Oshawa divorce lawyers at Carmichael Law. We have 30 years of combined experience working with spouses to resolve their divorce-related disputes, so they can move forward with their lives.