Many of the people who have filed for divorce during the lockdown or are going to get divorced or separated once life returns to the “old normal” are not doing so exclusively because of issues that arose during the pandemic. Most are people whose marriages were already on the rocks — but were staying together because of inertia. The pandemic simply served to accelerate the expiration date on what was already a flailing or dead marriage.
Why is it that some people would “sit on” a divorce until something counteracts the inertia? Finding that out is why part of my basic consultation is to ask, “Why now?” The answer will, to some extent, formulate the strategy of the case.
For example, I am working with a man who came to me wanting a divorce after being separated for 20 years. I asked him, “Why now?” He said, “Because I’m bored.” He just needed a project to keep him busy! This was the first time I’ve ever heard someone give boredom as an answer, and he was being completely honest. More common responses to “Why now?” include: an exacerbation of verbal or even physical aggression, including an inability to control arguing in front of the children; loss of sense of self within the marriage; disliking the personality traits one’s spouse brings out in them; lack of intimacy for an extended period of time that someone can no longer handle; finding another lover that hones in feelings of loneliness within the marriage; economic incentive, such as financial advances that one does not wish to share with their spouse, among many other reasons.
From an economic standpoint, inertia can have dire consequences in situations where it is necessary to move quickly to protect separate property. There are situations in which a person needs to take immediate action — like if the person wants to start a business or is about to come into a very large amount of money that they don’t want to share with their soon-to-be-ex-spouse.
So, while the pandemic does not appear to be the cause of many divorce cases, it seems that it has often been the impetus. Perhaps it’s because people have time to think about what they want to do after this situation is over — and one of the things people think is, “I don’t want to live like this anymore.” Sometimes when someone is sick, restricted and/or experiencing loss of control over their lives, they realize life is short, that they want to make a change once they recover and regain a semblance of control. These and/or other factors might create the perfect storm for feelings to bloom for other people, and for the parties of a loveless marriage to overcome inertia.
Regardless of what your turning point was, getting started early will pay dividends in terms of both time and money. It will also place you in a strong position, able to react decisively to any obstacles that pop up. To learn more, contact me.
Cheryl Stein, Esq.
The Law and Mediation Offices of Cheryl Stein
745 Fifth Avenue, Suite 500
New York, NY 10151
Phone: (646) 884-2324