Divorcing and divorced couples should expect three trends in 2022 – plus the do's and don'ts, according to an expert

THERE are several trends that both divorced and divorcing couples should expect to see or even experience in 2022, according to California-based Ashley Silberfeld, Partner at top firm Blank Rome.

Some of these include custody and alimony disputes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and even battles over family pets. 


“Covid is an equal opportunity pandemic – it literally affects every part of our lives, including divorce,” Ashey told The Sun.

According to data collected by Legal Templates in 2020, 34 percent more people were turning to their site for a divorce agreement form than the previous year.

While not all these folks looking to get divorced necessarily went through with it, it’s still a considerable increase from numbers before a pandemic-ridden world.

Ashley said she has certainly kept busy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For the first three months of the pandemic, the practice slowed down a bit … we were Covid-19 newbies, right?

“And then something happened in June or July of 2020 when the divorce world exploded and it has not stopped since,” she recalled.

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“I think for some people, Covid was like the beginning of the end.”

Marriages were not the only thing affected by the pandemic; according to Ashley, there are three emerging trends seen in former couples who are already divorced or in the process of separating.

MONEY MOVES

In July 2021, 16.9 million Americans were unemployed, and 57 percent of those people lost their job due to the pandemic negatively affecting or even contributing to the closure of their previous places of work, per the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics. 

This has consequently influenced people’s financial wellbeing, and Ashey said it’s showing up in court.

“More recently – and I expect to see even more going forward – is people who are divorced and already have child support and spousal support obligations, if there’s been a change in their employment or their business has taken a downward turn, people are needing to do more modifications to reduce their support obligations,” she noted.

PHYSICAL MOVES

“People [are] having more custody disputes that are Covid-related, including people wanting to relocate,” Ashley said to The Sun.

According to a Pew Research Center study, 22 percent of Americans moved or know someone who moved directly because of the pandemic.

Of those who moved, 18 percent said it was a financially-based decision.

“[When people realized they don’t need to] be in the high-rent district of New York City or Los Angels and can go live somewhere that’s more affordable and [it] doesn’t affect their employment, people are moving,” Ashley said. 

“And when people move and have kids, that’s probably the most difficult custody issue that comes before a court and that we as family lawyers deal with.”

PETS MOVES 

The American Veterinary Medical Association reported that “85 percent of dog owners and 76 percent of cat owners consider their pet to be a member of the family,” and this growing love for pets is becoming an issue for many divorcing couples.

Ashley said she has seen it first hand, and the trend is only expected to grow.

“In California, the court still treats as dogs as property, but the court is required to consider what’s in the dog’s best interest or in the pet’s interest,” Ashley said.

“I mean the best interest standard is used for children.”

And for those in the beginning stages of divorce, Ashley laid out some ground rules she thinks will help people financially and mentally.

DO BECOME EDUCATED IN YOUR FINANCIAL CIRCUMSTANCES

It’s a common practice to make one partner in a relationship in charge of the finances, but that doesn’t mean the other should turn a blind eye.

Ashey recommends that everyone make an effort be aware of their financial standpoints so there are no surprises if your marriage does end in divorce.

“Know where your tax returns are, know what bank accounts you have, know what retirement accounts you have,” she stated.

“Knowledge is power.”

DO NOT PUT YOUR KIDS IN THE MIDDLE

Ashley strongly believes the most important thing while going through a divorce is to remember “you’re parents first and divorcing spouses second.”

“Don’t use the kids as a messenger. 

“Don’t use the kids as a weapon

“Don’t use your kids as your confidant,” she urged. 

It’s best to always keep the wellbeing and mental health of your child first in line, and keep any disagreements and frustrations private.

DO HAVE ACESS TO FUNDS

Ashley recommends people have enough money for a few months of expenses in their own account before entering a divorce.

“It’s important to have that accessibility to funds because, in California, you don’t get into a courtroom the day after you file for divorce. It can take months,” she explained.

She has seen spouses completely deplete joint accounts, leaving the other person with nothing to support themselves with.

“Depleting an account believe it or not is not considered an emergency for purposes of a court,” she added.

DO TRY TO SETTLE OUTSIDE COURT

Ashley described going to court with a former partner “school tuition type expensive down the drain [and] down payments on houses down the drain.”

Money part aside, she said resolving a divorce in court compromises the “sense of control and certainty that comes from a settlement.”

“When you go to court, someone in a black robe who may or may not have some family law experience is deciding the fate of the most important things in people’s lives: their money, their stuff, and their kids,” she said.

She added: “Most cases can and should be settled without people ever seeing the inside of a courtroom and the way that they do that is by agreement.”

Some ways to avoid entering a court battle include settling a divorce agreement with a mediator or a forensic accountant.

Of course, the cheapest way to settle a divorce is for estranged partners to simply work it out amongst themselves and then have a lawyer write up the papers, but Ashley understands that’s not possible for every couple.

DO FIND A LAWYER THAT YOU TRUST

“More than any type of law that I’ve done, the lawyer-client relationship in a divorce case is so incredibly personal,” Ashley said.

“You have to tell your lawyers your deepest darkest secrets, you have to tell your lawyers your deepest darkest fears, because that’s how we can do our job most effectively,” she explained.

Therefore, she said it’s uber important to find someone you trust to handle your divorce. 

“Find someone who is knowledgeable, has experience, [and] isn’t just going to tell you what you want to hear but will tell you what they think is right for your case because the two are not always the same,” she stated.

DO NOT HIDE ANYTHING FROM YOUR LAWYER

Just as you need to trust your lawyer, your lawyer should be able to trust that they know everything there is to know about you, your history, and your divorce. 

“The worst way for me to learn about something is to hear it from opposing counsel,” Ashley noted.

“I don’t care how bad it is. I would rather hear it from you first than to hear it from my opposing party or my opposing counsel.”

She added: “Then I’m just completely exposed. 

“I don’t have time to deal with it. 

“I don’t have time to figure out how we can manage the situation.”

And while 2022 will certainly see the abovementioned scenarios, plenty of people are hoping to find love as well.

According to dating site Happn, 33 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 34 are looking for a partner this year.

And if you need some help getting into the dating scene, a matchmaking site has the perfect first date questions to spice up the conversation.  



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Email us at [email protected] or call 212 416 4552.

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