There is no real advantage or disadvantage in filing for a divorce, legal separation or to dissolve a domestic partnership during the COVID pandemic. All the normal rules apply.
There may, however, be some strategic advantage, depending on your own unique circumstances.
There are some things to be aware of in all cases. If one of the parties dies during the pendency of the dissolution, it is unlikely that there will be any change in the community property division of the marital property. Put another way, when you die with a divorce pending, your spouse will generally get all of your interest in the community property.
On the other hand, if your spouse is currently hunkered down at an online shopping site, using the credit cards like there’s no tomorrow, that might be a good reason to file right away.
Once a Petition for Dissolution, Petition to Dissolve a Registered Domestic Partnership or a Legal Separation is filed, the income and debts of each partner become their own responsibility and the other partner will not be liable for those debts in family court.
Prior to separation, literally all debts are community debts, even if the purchase was for something that would usually only be used by the other partner, i.e. clothes, jewelry or a bass fishing boat. Say, for example, after filing for divorce, one of the parties spends $10,000 on a credit card for stuff they can’t live without. In that case, the other party would no longer be responsible for those debts in the eyes of the family court as a formal request to dissolve the relationship had already been filed (your contract with the credit card company is a different issue).
Another, perhaps more salient example is if one partner becomes sick – then once a divorce petition has been filed, the other party would then be protected from those debts in family court proceedings. This is one way that parties can work to protect their assets from the potentially crushing cost of medical care.
Sometimes, it’s just a relief to get the process started and once the relevant paperwork is filed with the court, a weight somehow gets lifted off your shoulders. Also, the legal protections discussed above will kick in and provide some immediate protection.
Before you make any decisions, please know that we are here to help and if you have any questions about your own, unique circumstances, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We have been serving our client’s family law needs for more than 20 years.