How the Omicron Variant will Affect Divorcing Families
We are now used to the pandemic throwing curve balls at families, especially families going through a separation or divorce, every three to four months. The Omicron COVID variant will not be any different.
Rising Divorce Rates
Expect divorce rates to continue to rise as the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic continues. Every relationship has its bumps in the road, but the last two years has shown that the pandemic amplifies these normal bumps and can cause family breakdowns leading to separation and divorce. As Omicron continues to affect our daily lives, divorce rates will continue to rise.
Disruptions to Our Daily Activities and Routines
With spiking COVID rates, many of the activities we take for granted or that were returning to “normal” will be scaled back or canceled entirely. We are experiencing this with the early response to Omicron. For example, sporting events attendance is being restricted, seasonal activities put on hold, and soon cancelations altogether. We are seeing similar effects on other forms of entertainment including theatres, concerts bars and restaurants.
Schools, colleges, and universities will be extending breaks and have started cancelling in person exams and classes. Students are stuck in their dorms or are returning home.
Gyms will see restrictions and regular exercise will be difficult as winter sets in. Eating out and our diet will continue to be affected. Travel plans, especially international travel, are being scaled back or cancelled altogether.
Where and When We Work
Omicron will affect where and how we work. Many businesses that were accelerating the return to the office, malls, factory and other workplaces will have to scale back this return to “normal”” or cancel their plans. Industries that were able to pivot and have their workforce go remote will be fortunate ones.
Self-help and Not following Orders, Agreements, or the Status Quo
Unfortunately, not everyone has the best intentions. With various restrictions related to the pandemic, some people will use this as an excuse to change parenting time and agreements. When this is done unilaterally it is called “self-help”. The consequences for families and especially children, could be dire. Disruptions to routines and the status quo are often not in the best interests of children and can lead to increased disputes and litigation. Accessing the Justice system to address this conduct can be expensive, cause delay and create further uncertainty.
Omicron will increase the fear of the unknown, but we are seeing a pattern develop regarding pandemic disputes, divorce, and separated families. Click the hyperlinks below to learn more about issues that will continue to provide warring couples with fodder:
Impact on Courts
We may see possible court closures and restricted access to an already overburdened justice system. The Administration of Justice has worked hard over the past 22 months to pivot to digital and now offers Zoom hearings and CaseLines for filing digital documents and pleadings. Courts will continue to hear emergency or urgent matters to ensure the best interests of children are protected, enforce safety protocols, and stop self-help and parents from taking unilateral action.
Professionals are ready, willing, and able to help
Despite the restrictions and delirious affects that Omicron will cause, you can still access professional support. Family doctors, lawyers, social workers, and other mental health professionals will continue to available to help. The Justice system will continue to manage family conflict and ensure the best interest of children remain paramount.
The Road Less Traveled
You do not need to run off to court when you get into a dispute with your spouse. It could take several months before you see a judge. There are great meditators, counsellors and divorce lawyers who have specialized training to settle matters outside of the court system. One very effective approach is collaborative divorce (which can be conducted completely over videoconferencing) where we specifically agree not take the court route and focus on the family’s goals and interests. This gives parents a voice and the power to fashion an outcome that is best for their family. This lowers the anxiety and stress that is often associated with divorce and also saves time and expense.
Patience continues to be the currency of the pandemic. Common senses and perseverance are essential. Omicron will not likely be our last variant, perhaps this is now our new normal.