By Dana McKee
It has now been over one year since much of the State of Maryland entered coronavirus-related lockdowns. To say that the pandemic has fundamentally altered our lives would be an understatement. COVID-19 has changed how we work, learn, and interact with one another on a daily basis. We began working from home. We struggled to balance being a full-time employee and a parent, supervising children who previously attended a daycare center or in-person school. We had to say goodbye to loved ones from afar, due to travel bans and restrictions issued by religious institutions and funeral homes. But still, life continued to move forward. We attended virtual marriage ceremonies and welcomed children. We strengthened friendships and relationships, both old and new.
With the one-year anniversary of the pandemic behind us, now is the perfect time for a self-check-in; a spring cleaning of sorts! Here are some topics to think about:
Addressing Mental Health Issues
Unsurprisingly, the pandemic has had a major effect on mental health, triggering new health conditions and exacerbating existing ones. While public health measures, such as social distancing and limiting access to public spaces, are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, they also make us feel isolated and lonely. Many of us are more stressed, depressed, or anxious than ever before. If you are struggling to cope with all of the change this past year has brought, now is a good time to contact your healthcare provider. This is an unprecedented crisis, and there is no shame in asking for help.
When did you last evaluate your personal finances? Do you want to contribute more to an investment or retirement account? Do you want to protect your assets with a prenuptial agreement prior to marrying? Do you need to start collecting child support from your child’s other parent? Do you want to save more for your child’s college expenses, or consider hiring an Independent College Admissions Counselor? Whether your financial situation is better or worse than it was one year ago, there is never a bad time to organize finances.
Ending Long-Term Relationships or Marriages
The lockdowns caused by the pandemic have forced most couples to spend increased amounts of time alone together, which for some couples has acted as a catalyst for breakups. Marriage problems masked by pre-pandemic routines have become unavoidable. In January 2021, the New York Times reported a surge of divorce filings in the United States. The reason for postponing a separation or divorce, including a bonus or family vacation, may no longer exist. Instead of allowing domestic pressures to build, couples are finding that now may be the time to move forward with a separation and divorce. The family law attorneys at Brown, Goldstein & Levy are here to provide advice and assistance with your divorce.
Making Daycare and/or School Decisions
For most families, childcare arrangements and/or schooling has looked different this academic year. Some daycare centers have closed, either permanently or for a 14-day quarantine period. Your child’s school may be virtual instead of in-person. Parents have sent their child to public or private school, or homeschooled for the first time. Due to the mass distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, many childcare facilities have reopened and schools have returned to entirely in-person or hybrid teaching. Your child may even be participating in extracurricular activities or summer camp again. Have you decided whether to send your child back to daycare or school? Are you and the child’s other parent in agreement on this topic? You may wish to address daycare and/or school issues in your custody or divorce case to ensure that all parties are on the same page.
Filing for Child Support
Are you the primary caretaker of your child? Do you receive child support from the other parent? Often, parents informally agree not to file for child support. While this may have worked prior to the pandemic, some parents are finding that they can no longer support their child without financial assistance from their ex. In Maryland, both parents are legally obligated to financially support their minor child. Now may be the right time to ensure that the appropriate amount of child support is received or paid.
Dana McKee has represented clients in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Frederick County, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County with their domestic matters. Contact 410-962-1030 to schedule a consultation.