KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tricia Root walked through Loose Park in Kansas City, Missouri, on her wedding day 16 years ago.
In August 2020, she got divorced, but not because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For me, it was a long time coming, but one of those things you’re afraid to make the move,” Root admitted.
The mother of three was afraid to make the move because she didn’t know much about the divorce process: how much it would cost, how long it would take and how bitter things could get.
Mark Haefner, of Haefner Law Office, said a lot of people are in Root’s shoes during the pandemic.
Some surveys show a 30 percent spike in divorces since March compared to the same time in 2019. Other survey results show couples are more stressed. But one survey found the majority of couples feel more committed now than before the pandemic.
Either way, Haefner, who practices family law exclusively in St. Louis and Lee’s Summit, published a book over the summer to educate people like Root. It’s called "Exit Strategy: Understanding and Handling Your Missouri Divorce."
“Usually, when clients come to me they’re in one of the worst times of their life and they’re lost and scared and worried,” Haefner explained. “What I get to do is help them get to the next part.”
Haefner laid out some of the key points from his book:
- Consider couples therapy before divorce.
- Hire an attorney, listen your attorney and be honest with your attorney.
- Don’t delay if you’ve been served.
- Gather all your financial information. Sometimes running a free credit check on yourself is a good place to start.
- Stay off social media.
“In almost every trial I’ve had for the last 15 years, some form of social media has come in as evidence,” Haefner explained. “What you write in a moment of anger or frustration is going to be used against you.”
In the end, Root said the divorce process wasn’t as bad as she predicted. Heefner helped her finalize everything in August.
“I’m so much happier,” she said. “At peace would be the one word to describe it.”
Now Root is on to the next chapter and wants other people to know they shouldn’t be afraid to turn the page too.
Haefner’s book is available on Amazon for $16.95.