Spouse Safe Protections Amid COVID-19

Posted on Apr 15, 2020 by Katie Carter

Some things change, some things stay the same. Even though the coronavirus pandemic has totally upended the world as we knew it, there are some things that were challenges before that continue to remain so. For us, in divorce practice, one of the biggies is making sure that we’re able to get information to our clients in a spouse safe way.

It’s different to be in a marriage; you and your husband are members of the same team. Once you start heading down the path to divorce, there’s a transition. Instead of being each other’s MVPs, you’re members of rival teams. You don’t want to share everything with each other anymore, and, in fact, sharing too much can be detrimental.

Just like in poker you don’t want to show the other players your cards, in a divorce you don’t want you spouse to have all the same information you do as far as your plans and strategy moving forward. You have to be careful.

And, sometimes, its more than just strategy: it can be a safety consideration, too. All too often, our clients are in situations where domestic violence is an issue. Obviously, if you’re afraid your husband would hurt you for considering a future that didn’t involve him, you need to be extra careful. If you’re afraid that you might be harmed, it’s a good idea to work with a domestic violence counselor or local victim advocate as well as a divorce attorney, but, still – you should know that there are a lot of protections built into our system because this is a common issue that we face in our day to day practice.

What recommendations do you have to help keep me safe from my spouse?

1. Set up a new email – and ensure he doesn’t have access!

If he knows your email address, set up a new one.

Choose a password that he doesn’t know, and wouldn’t be able to guess.

Set up your email so that you automatically log out, and have to log back in each time. Do not leave your new email set up to where it automatically logs in anywhere. Don’t store your password anywhere, or have any document or app where you keep track of all your passwords that includes this one.

2. Request a copy of our (FREE) books.

You need to know as much as possible about the divorce process, and the only way to do that is by researching.

Our books are Virginia-specific, written by actual Virginia divorce attorneys, and free. We have several popular titles, all available on our website. If you request one, we’ll send it to you in a plain, unmarked envelope. Even your mailman won’t know what’s inside!

Don’t want your husband to intercept it and open your mail? Send it somewhere else – a friend, neighbor, or family member. They won’t know what’s inside, either, unless you choose to tell them.

Social distancing? Good, me, too. You can ask them to just leave it on the porch for you; no contact required.

3. Schedule an appointment, and take it somewhere else.

These days, we don’t offer any in-person appointments, though we hope to be back to that as soon as reasonably possible. We’re doing our bit to flatten the curve, and only taking telephone appointments.

But that’s hard, too, right? If both you and your husband are home – whether you’re working from home or one or both of you is laid off – it creates a challenging environment. So, what do you do?

Obviously (I think), you don’t take the call at home when both of you are there, even with the door closed. It’s probably a good idea to schedule the call at a time when your husband will be gone from the home, or when you’re going to be out (or will make sure to be out).

Governor Northam has issued a stay at home order, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a little drive. You could sit in a parking lot somewhere, or just take the call while you drive. You could also do it in tandem with a regular trip somewhere that is allowed under the order – to the grocery store, to a doctor’s appointment, or whatever.

It’s not easy; in fact, it creates an extra level of challenge. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it!

These are weird times. But, with a little bit of preparation and awareness, we can all keep working on flattening that curve AND move your divorce forward.

The first step? Get the information you need. Request one of our books, and follow us on social media (again, a good idea to log out of accounts and change to a new, improved password).  We post lots of information there as well.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, give our office a call at 757-425-5200.