#childsafety | Opinion | How long do I have to hold out before divorcing a man I no longer love? Ask Ellie

It’s prompted a Canadian lawyer, Russell Alexander, in his second book on divorce law in Ontario, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Divorce, to add a chapter specifically on divorce in the time of this coronavirus pandemic.

But he first steers away from courts and divorce laws to tips for couples that include self-reflection, communication, couple time, understanding that feeling stress is normal, staying positive.

That’s mental health-and relationship-based advice, to be considered before contemplating legal matters.

As for going to court, the guiding principle is “cooperation, not litigation,” if at all possible.

Ontario courts are operating only for the most urgent matters, at the time of Alexander’s writing his book.

“Urgent” example: Requests for urgent relief relating to the safety of a child or parent (e.g. a restraining order).

The author’s summary on custody and access — two fiercely-fought battles between some divorcing parents — shines some common-sense light: Until the pandemic is over, children’s lives and vitally important family relationships cannot be placed “on hold” indefinitely without risking serious emotional harm and upset, he notes.

In these troubling and disorienting times, children need the love, guidance and emotional support of both parents.

“Blended” families are also addressed regarding worries over Covid spread through more family members:

“Each family will have its own unique issues and complications.… But no matter how difficult the challenge, for the sake of the child we have to find ways to maintain important parental relationship — and above all, we have to find ways to do it safely.”

To the letter-writer today, and others who in the past four months have turned the word “divorce” around in their heads, this book is a primer on the realities involved.

There are many other related issues to consider beyond this book, of course — such as legal and court costs, along with counselling fees to try and avoid divorce if possible.

But if pandemic stress, over-exposure to a controlling partner, or some other reason has you considering marriage break-up, you’ll learn a lot from this primer on what’s involved.

Ellie’s tip of the day

Divorce in the time of COVID-19 adds stress to stress. Get informed/prepared, unless you/your children need to seek safety first.

Ellie Tesher is an advice columnist for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: ellie@thestar.ca.

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