If the coronavirus pandemic was a hurricane, only now would the winds have begun to blow.
As a California divorce lawyer for 12 years, and before that a Professor of Disaster Management at Louisiana State University at the Stephenson Disaster Management Institute, I can warn you that there are two truths in any disaster: 1) the disaster is what happens after the winds stop blowing or the earth stops quaking, and 2) the thing that causes the biggest problems is never what you expect or what you plan for.
We are in the middle of a slow-moving disaster of perhaps the most epic proportions we have witnessed in modern times. In California, we have no available courts and access to judges is limited to the most extreme emergencies (e.g., I have a client whose child is in a medically induced coma unrelated to COVID-19 who needs special attention or he will die). In the midst of this, we are called to do what Buddhists say in a different context, “chop wood, carry water.” The pressure cooker of quarantine is, in many ways, a divorce lawyer’s garden—spouses cooped up, money running tight, the kids home from school all day, nowhere to go. It recalls Sartre’s No Exit in which one of the characters, cooped up in a hotel room for eternity with two others, remarks: “Hell is other people.” But, surprisingly to some readers, most divorce lawyers I know view it differently. They are concerned about increasing incidents of domestic violence, child and spousal support payments with skyrocketing unemployment, dealing with school and court closures, and juggling child custody agreements in an age of quarantine.
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