Divorce and Custody in the Time of Covid-19
You’ve heard the prediction: nine months from now we’ll be in the throes of a coronavirus baby boom. It’s an optimistic, if not humorous, take on life after Covid-19. And, it might prove true after the months-long “shelter in place” orders enacted across the country. We’ll have to wait and see.
Unfortunately, we’re also likely to see some less humorous trends in the coming months. If reports coming out of the countries that have been facing the virus longer than us are any indication, we’ll see a spike in divorce rates. According to a recent story in Financial Times, divorce rates have skyrocketed across China since their Covid-19 two-month lockdown. In the cities of Yinchuan and Shanghai, people are waiting four times longer than usual to have divorces processed due to the backlog. In the province of Sichuan applications for divorce have increased 30%.
Another grim and not unrelated statistic coming out of Hubei, the province of Wuhan most hard hit by the coronavirus, has been a 50% increase in the reports of domestic abuse. The U.K. is reporting similar trends, and the U.S. will no doubt follow in this bleak trajectory.
Less visible is the increase in inquiries related to child custody and possession orders. Worried parents are unsure how canceled school affects shared custody orders. Transporting children between homes across state lines has become another area of concern. What if one parent lives in a state with travel restrictions? What if a child must fly to visit a parent? How are the courts responding to parental custody issues that have arisen out of the pandemic?
We have fielded questions like these and many others as our clients try to navigate the uncharted territory before us. These are difficult questions and difficult times. We recommend seeking the reassurance of professional legal advice. Our lawyers are busy working for clients whose lives and relationships have been disrupted by the events surrounding Covid-19.
What to Do if You are the Victim of Domestic Violence
If you find yourself the victim of physical or verbal domestic abuse, there are steps you can take.
· Contact law enforcement
· Reach out to the Family Refuge Center in your community
· Seek a domestic violence protective order through your local magistrate
· If you are unsure how to proceed, contact our office and we will help you navigate the system.