Going into lockdown again fills all of us with a certain dread, but perhaps it’s hardest for those who are waiting for the ‘right time’ to get divorced and perceiving that it has to wait until post-lockdown.
I feel pretty strongly that if your marriage is ruined, now is as good a time as any to get divorced. The divorce world is open for business. You can start a lockdown divorce now, and here are some reasons why I would encourage you to consider this.
The prospect of a lockdown divorce might feel daunting. You don’t know what to do or how to do it and can you do it living under the same roof as your spouse?
These issues existed long before lockdown was a thing. So often I speak to people whose divorce is scheduled for ‘some day’ or ‘one day’.
Lockdown can seem like a good reason to hesitate, but is it masking the fear you’re feeling? Could it be fear (not lockdown) that’s really holding you back?
After all, lawyers and finances and court hearings all sound rather nerve-racking: it makes sense that you’re feeling afraid. A new chapter to your life can be simultaneously exciting and terrifying. But, staying in a broken marriage is 10x worse.
However, a lockdown divorce is entirely possible: in fact, I’d go so far as to say a lockdown divorce could be a really good thing for you.
One day soon you will find yourself living in your future. What do you want that to look like? Lockdown is the perfect time to get your ducks in a row: divorce takes time, after all. Whether you need to make phone calls or organise paperwork or househunt (lockdown restrictions allow for house viewings and valuations), your lockdown divorce sets you up for a ‘new normal’.
Lockdown means the pressure’s on for all of us. Here are some things you can do to get the ball rolling:
1. Talk to your partner about your desire and decision to instigate a lockdown divorce. Divorce is a joint process, but can sometimes feel one-sided. Emotions may be running high already and/or may need time to settle: there is no rush. If divorce is your partner’s decision and you need some time to let this sink in, ask for it. The divorce process takes several months at best and in most cases there is no urgency.
2. Decide – ideally together – of a plan of action. Some of the things you need to consider are telling the children, making the divorce application and thinking about what family life will look like post-lockdown, post-divorce (where will you live, how will the children divide their time). There are no rules here: you need to assess your situation and decide what’s best for you. Legal advice should feature as should emotional support. The most amicable of divorces happen between couples who (individually) have the best support. You may need to seek information or talk things through with a neutral third party before you can make decisions. This can all happen during lockdown (thank goodness for Zoom).
If you can’t decide together or your spouse is stalling you can start gathering information and planning for your post-lockdown, post-divorce life. This should be a practical and creative process, and not something to dread or fear.
3. Prioritise your self-care. Lockdown is demanding for us all, not just those of you going through a lockdown divorce, and the last two lockdowns have given us a hint of the challenges that lie ahead. If you’ve decided to divorce, this needs to be a priority over coming months: what can you put on the backburner to free up your time and energy? Divorce needn’t be overwhelmingly demanding but it is such an important turning point in your life and it needs your attention.
4. Feel the fear and do it anyway. It’s normal and expected to feel fear, so find people to share the burden or lessen the load. If you wait until the day you don’t feel afraid anymore, you could be waiting for a long time…
5. Look forward to the day when your bad marriage is behind you. Divorce is a cloud with a silver lining and you have so much to look forward to: friends old and new, learning to love yourself again, releasing the negativity that goes hand-in-hand with a bad marriage; being alive and free!
You have a choice: action or inaction, Both are choices. If you are erring towards inaction, ask yourself why? Are you afraid or are you unsure? Do you need moral support or a listening ear? Could your fear of staying stuck outweigh your fear of taking action? Many people find that although the first step is the hardest the next one is far easier.