Breaking up in the time of Covid-19 brings new challenges

During a divorce, individual counseling and hiring a mediator can help pave an easier path to resolution, attorneys specializing in family law say.

(CNN)There comes a moment in many relationships where the partnership is no longer viable, and where separation — or, for married couples, divorce — is the unavoidable next step.

And while divorcing or going separate ways is rarely easy, couples dissolving their households during Covid-19 are facing new woes.
The jury is still out regarding spiking divorce numbers as a result of the pandemic. But without a doubt, for many people, relationships — not to mention sex — have become more complicated in 2020.
    When it's a case of emotional or physical abuse, the right time to get out of marriage or a relationship is always right now.
      For marriages and relationships involving the usual strife, the stress of job losses, shared housing, co-parenting and health insurance worries have been exacerbated by the pandemic. That has couples weighing when (not to mention if) it's the right time to bow out.

        For many couples — married or not — the time is now

        For Missy, 43, an information technology consultant (we're not using her real name to protect her privacy) the moment she decided it was time to finally end things for good with her partner of nearly 20 years came in April.
          The couple married in 2001 and had two children. "Sometime late last year, I started feeling like we'd grown into different people," she said. "And I started to realize that if I was going to choose a person now, it would be someone different than him."
          Then the pandemic hit.
          "I was working from home since March and was thinking, there's a pandemic, I can't (split up) now," she said. "Where would we live? How would we do this?"
          "At the very beginning (of lockdown), I absolutely thought, 'We need to stick together, we have to ride this out,'" Missy said.
          But by April, after a fight that was finally the last straw for her, Missy said, she and her ex-husband decided he would move out.
          "Don't let Covid be your excuse to stay in a bad relationship," she said. "I am really glad I ended mine when I did."

          Coveting a different future

          Missy is one of many people pushed to a breaking point and breakup during the pandemic.
          "In 'normal' times, a crisis would force couples into a cooperative pattern," said Clarissa Silva, a New York City-based behavioral scientist and relationship coach. "But Covid-19 is creating and re-creating patterns of uncertainty for many families. Covid-19 has extended the disillusionment phase to be part of everyday life."
          For many people forced into closer proximity and more time with their partners, this sense of disillusionment has brought into sharper relief the behaviors and beliefs they can and cannot live with anymore.
          "Some people are really planning their escape or their next step in life for their freedom right now," said Kem Marks, founder and chief attorney of Just In Time Legal Solutions in Bessemer, Alabama.
          Marks said she fields constant queries from her clients about when they can expect their divorce proceedings to be finalized. "People are coveting this ideal life they never had time to think about or plan before."

          Some divorces may be happening faster, thanks to Zoom

          Divorce proceedings have changed since the pandemic began, said Frances Martinez, a family law attorney with Older, Lundy, Alvarez & Koch in Tampa, Florida.
          "There seems to be the perception the courts are closed or people don't have access to the courts right now, but that's totally false," Martinez said. "The cour