3 Divorce Considerations During COVID-19 - Modern Family Law 3 Divorce Considerations During COVID-19 - Modern Family Law
Divorce

3 Divorce Considerations During COVID-19

There has been a lot of information that has been circulating relating to the impact of Coronavirus on child and spousal support and child custody and visitation, but what about its impact on other aspects of a divorce or legal separation? Here are some other things should you consider relating to your divorce or legal separation in the midst of this pandemic:

Property Division

Many businesses – large and small – are being impacted by COVID-19, especially those in the restaurant, hospitality, theatre, airlines, transportation, and entertainment industry, just to name a few.

If your spouse owns a business, it may be hard to value the business at this time as many businesses’ revenue has seen a significant decline. Some businesses may not recover and may end up having to close or file for bankruptcy, which will then affect the property division in your case. Some businesses may take a significant time to recover.

In these circumstances, it may be important to work with your attorney to retain a business valuation expert so that you can get a fair and accurate valuation of your community property interest.

Global stock markets have also fallen sharply in recent weeks, which will affect the values of retirement accounts. History has repeatedly shown that the market will recover after a stock market crash, but the question is when?

This may not be such a big deal if you and your spouse agree that he/she will transfer your community interest into your own retirement account. In most circumstances, a qualified domestic relations order may be needed to transfer your interest. In this instance, the value of your retirement account, assuming that you hold on to it, will increase when the market recovers.

However, if you are looking for your spouse to pledge other assets to cover your share of your community interest in his/her retirement account(s), then you may be getting the raw end of the deal since the value of his/her account(s) may have dropped significantly.

If your spouse’s compensation consists of not only a base salary but stock options or restricted stock units, the value of your community property share will be lower at this time. In such instances, you may want to consider having your spouse hold your shares in trust until such time as the market recovers.
Along the same lines, if you both own real estate together, this may not be a good time to sell since the value of your property may be lower. You may want to reach an agreement with your spouse wherein one party has exclusive use of the property until such time as you both mutually agree to sell.

You will want to have a clear agreement with your spouse as to who is responsible for what expenses. You can also both agree to rent out the property, use the rental income to pay the property’s mortgage and other expenses, if possible, and then sell at a mutually agreeable time. There is no one right answer and every situation is unique. We can help you come up with creative solutions to deal with the situations you are facing.

Health Insurance

In general, your spouse’s obligation to keep you on his/or health insurance ends upon the entry of the divorce. Now, more than ever, we all need to make sure that we have a health insurance plan in place in case we get sick. If your own employer offers health insurance, it’s a good idea to research the different options and plans that your employer offers so that you can get a policy in place prior to the termination of the plan under your spouse.
If you are currently unemployed or your employer does not offer a health insurance plan, you may be able to find an affordable insurance plan or qualify for Medi-Cal through Covered California.

You can also come to an agreement with your spouse to delay the termination date of your marriage for an agreed-upon timeframe so that your spouse can continue to cover you under his/or insurance plan so that you do not go without health insurance during these unpredictable times.

Estate Planning

It’s a good idea to review your estate planning documents or get one prepared if you don’t already have one. The last thing most people want is for their spouse to make decisions regarding their medical care/treatment if they come down with the Coronavirus or other illness before their divorce is finalized. Estate planning documents are also important if you have children. You want to make sure you have a plan in place in case you both get Coronavirus.

There is no one right answer and every situation is unique. Here at Modern Family Law, we are ready to help you come up with creative solutions to your unique situation.


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