5 Things to Do if You Know Your Relationship is Over but You’re Stuck in COVID-19 Lockdown

Whether you’re thinking of breaking up, starting the divorce process as soon as you can break out, or are just considering your options, here is where to start.

  1. Prepare mentally.  I encourage anyone that is thinking of getting divorced to seek out counseling.  Ideally, you and your spouse have already been to counseling for at least a year, before you’ve gotten to this point.  Understanding there are circumstances where counseling isn’t possible or your spouse refuses to attend, you still need to be in a good place before going through this process, for yourself and for your kids.  You will be better equipped to handle struggles when they arise if you are in a grounded place.  If you have suffered emotional abuse at the hands of your spouse, you may not be ready to get a divorce due to fear or because you don’t realize that you’re strong enough.  A qualified therapist will help you and many therapists are now offering remote counseling.
  2. Prepare financially.  This is good advice even if your marriage is built to last.  Now is the time to have the conversation with your spouse about your assets, debts, and income.  Many of us are tightening the belt financially, be it from loss of employment or decrease in income.  You need to know what savings accounts, brokerage accounts, and retirement accounts are in existence should you need to rely on these funds.  Also, there are new rules regarding borrowing from retirement accounts that may apply in your situation.  Plus you should be aware of your credit score and how to increase it if necessary.
  3. Prepare a Case Information Statement.  This document should be completed by everyone, whether you’re single, married, or thinking of divorce.  Here is a rewritable PDF version:  Case Information Statement (CIS).  Take your time (weeks or months) completing this document.  Really think where your money goes:  food, subscriptions, coffee, gym, co-pays, salon, gifts, pets, etc.  Look back at annual credit card statements, bank statements and bills in order to figure out your average monthly spending habits.  Using an app like Mint, Hiatus, or EveryDollar can really be eye opening.  But also, you will need to start thinking of what your new bills will look like and where you can decrease spending if necessary. 
  4. Look into the cost of Health Insurance.  If you have health insurance available through work or if you’re going to have to buy an individual plan, look into the cost, including co-pays and deductibles, as this will be part of your new budget.  Also schedule all the appointments you’ve been putting off:  annual physical/check-ups, eyecare and dental, before you have to change insurance; a health scare can change your decision to proceed with divorce.
  5. Start thinking about the big picture.  Where will you live?  Where will you work?  Where will your kids go to school?  If you have to move, will you rent or buy?  Most of my clients decide to rent at first, until they get a handle on their new life and finances.  If this is the case, start looking at rentals so that you get an idea of prices, and amenities: laundry room, pool, gym, doorman/safety concerns, etc.  Is your car in your name?  If it isn’t, what will be needed to get it into your name?  The timing of a lease term may be crucial, as credit and income are major factors in qualifying for a car lease or loan.

These are just a few things to think of if you’re thinking of moving on from your current relationship status.  When I decided to get divorced, I essentially went through this exact process and it helped me feel in control and secure at a time when most people feel anything but.  If you’re thinking of moving on and need someone to talk to about the divorce or separation process, please call or email me:  Jessica N. Mazur, 732-545-4717 x3859, jmazur@hoaglandlongo.com