Divorce is a difficult process, whether you’re going through it or helping someone else. It’s important to consider all of the legal ramifications that come with a divorce during or after a pandemic.
If you’re getting divorced and want to avoid some of the common pitfalls, then check out this list of considerations to keep in mind as you navigate your way through this difficult time:
Considerations When Divorcing Amid a Pandemic
The first thing to do is to take stock of your situation:
You may want to consider whether you should even file for divorce.
In some jurisdictions, if one spouse dies or becomes incapacitated during the course of the proceedings, they may be deemed legally “dead” and the case could be dismissed.
If this happens, you will have wasted time and money that could have been better spent on other things.
Therefore, if you decide to proceed with your case, think about how the pandemic might affect your finances and what steps you can take now to protect yourself and your partner from further losses.
Equalizing and Dividing Assets
It’s important to keep any concerns or anxieties about the pandemic out of this discussion as there’s no need to make it more complicated than necessary.
The first step is to list all the assets and liabilities that would be considered in a divorce, regardless of if they were acquired before or after the pandemic.
These should include property you own together, such as a house or car; savings; debts; investments; retirement accounts; and any other valuables like jewelry or artwork.
You may also want to include items like furniture, appliances and electronics that were purchased together for shared use in your home.
Divorce can have significant tax consequences, especially when there are children involved. The spouse who has custody of the children may be entitled to claim them as dependents on their tax return.
The spouse with whom you are divorcing may also claim deductions for alimony payments made after the divorce becomes final. Or for health insurance premiums paid for an ex-spouse or children who were living with them when the divorce was finalized but longer live in their household because of the divorce.
In addition, there may be tax consequences if your ex-spouse receives alimony from someone else.
For example, if your ex-spouse receives alimony from another person but remarries before filing a joint return with that person, he or she is not required to report any amounts received as income on his or her return.
As with any divorce, it’s important to have an estate plan in place before you separate. You should also consider what would happen if your spouse died before the divorce was finalized.
For example, if your spouse has spent all of his or her assets and is living on Social Security, what happens to those assets if he or she dies? Do they go back to you? Or do they go to another family member? This can be a complex issue that requires careful consideration and planning.
Assess new risks. Divorce proceedings are inherently risky because they involve two people whose interests are not necessarily aligned. In addition to this risk, however, there is also the risk associated with a pandemic.
You should therefore do your best to assess any additional risks caused by your divorce case and take appropriate steps to mitigate them.
For example, you might consider getting each spouse’s credit report reviewed by a local lawyer before proceeding with your case so that you know what liabilities might arise as a result of your divorce action.
Blair Thomas has been a music producer, bouncer, screenwriter and for over a decade has been the proud Co-Founder of eMerchantBroker, the highest rated adult subscription merchant account provider in the country. He has climbed in the Himalayas, survived a hurricane, and lived on a gold mine in the Yukon. He currently calls Thailand his home with a lifetime collection of his favorite books.