Apr 20, 2020

Unintended Marital & Family Risks from the Coronavirus Pandemic

Apr 20, 2020 - Family Law by |

How the COVID-19 Pandemic & Quarantine Are Affecting Marriages and Families

The effects of a near-total nationwide lockdown and sweeping shelter-in-place policies are far reaching. One of the areas that has been, and will continue to be, heavily impacted by this are marriages and families. There are actually a number of unintended risks and consequences as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Family Health During Coronavirus

When one person gets sick and brings it home, the entire family is immediately at a very high risk. Whether you have an elderly parent in the home, children, or even if it’s just you and your spouse and you’re seemingly in good health, this is a real danger. That’s why it’s essential to follow all official legislative policies for sheltering in place or quarantining, and other best practices for hygiene and safety.

Consider that if you’re an essential worker, healthcare provider, or in another high-risk field, the family may need to separate or quarantine, depending on the advice of one’s physician and care providers.

Sheltering in Place & Risks of Abuse and Violence

Perhaps the most harmful unintended consequence of sheltering in place on families is the risk of domestic violence and abuse. Spouses and children who are abused have, literally, nowhere to run or hide, and reduced capabilities to call for help. Meanwhile, stress factors are higher than ever, meaning there’s an ever-increased risk of sparking an incident of abuse for those stuck at home together.

Managing the Divorce Process During the Pandemic

Courts across the country have dealt with closures of various lengths and severities. That’s put a pause on the filing of new cases, and the processes and hearings for existing ones. Specifically, the Circuit Courts in Maryland are closed until at least June 5th, with the exceptions of certain emergency matters.  Expect this to create a backlog and delay when courts do reopen, particularly as they may reopen with reduced hours or other new limitations.

Sheltering in place during coronavirus has also complicated almost every matter of family law. Tens of millions of individuals have lost their income, which drastically changes child support and alimony. Managing child custody exchanges is now a matter of public health and statewide policies. Individuals who are beginning the process of divorce and haven’t yet moved out of the home may now be entirely unable to do so.

Every situation is unique, but there are many factors to explore in terms of the unintended impact of lockdowns and sheltering in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prospective clients in the state of Maryland can call our office for more information at 240.395.1418. We’ll be happy to answer any questions or set up a free virtual consultation.