The COVID-19 pandemic has struck the United States particularly hard. We are closing in on 3 million people infected and more than 130,000 dead at the time of publication. We are also facing the most rapid economic downturn in our history and uncertainty the likes of which America has never known. For some Oregon couples, the coronavirus and lockdown have either caused problems that didn’t exist before, such as job loss or financial distress, or have amplified existing problems. Either way, these couples are finding it untenable to stay in the relationship. While there’s never a “good” time for a divorce, getting a marital dissolution during these challenging times can be a nightmare. While some may be taking time to measure whether the relationship can be mended, it may not be possible to delay a divorce in all cases. In this post, we’ll tell you what you should know about the challenges of getting a divorce during a major pandemic and how you can use this situation to get a fresh start.
Divorce Challenges During the PandemicThe pandemic and recession are sure to make divorce even more stressful on all parties that it might otherwise be. Some of the particular challenges that spouses throughout Oregon have confronted include:
Lack of Access to Divorce and Family Law CourtsOregon’s stay-at-home order helped to decrease unnecessary movement and travel by residents. Some parents were not sure of the impact the pandemic had on their existing court orders, so some parenting time may have been lost or denied as parents grappled with whether exchanges were considered “essential” travel. Additionally, confused spouses who might have wanted to learn more about their options may not have been able to meet in person with a lawyer or may not have had transportation. Additionally, Oregon courts also initially closed to better protect staff and the public. Only emergency hearings were scheduled. While there are currently some cases being heard telephonically, some people are still struggling with meaningful access to courts.
Financial Difficulty and Property DivisionBecause Oregon is an equitable distribution state, family courts divide marital property among spouses in a way that they see as fair if the parties are unable to reach their own settlement. Spouses are also required to submit a sworn affidavit to the other spouse that lists all assets and liabilities. So what impact does the virus have on dividing marital assets?
- Millions of people have been laid off in the wake of the pandemic.
- Many people are worrying about how to retain health insurance to pay for treatment if they become infected, but they may be losing their health insurance along with their job.
- Many homeowners are struggling to maintain their mortgage while temporary relief is set to expire. It may be difficult for spouses to pay off outstanding debt while struggling to cover even the essentials.
- Retirement accounts may have drastically declined in recent months because of the economic downturn.