At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, family law attorneys and legal scholars predicted that the US divorce rate could surge due to the pandemic. Now, a few months down the road, it looks like those predictions were correct.
Today, we're taking a look at the factors contributing to rising divorce rates in the era of COVID-19.
Is the Divorce Rate Actually Increasing During COVID-19?
All signs point towards yes.
Precedent for an increase in the divorce rate during the COVID-19 pandemic was set in China, the first country hit by the virus. After coronavirus-related quarantines were lifted across the country, multiple cities reported historic numbers of divorce filings. In some cities, court clerks had to process so many divorce papers they didn't even have time for water breaks.
Now, it appears as though a similar phenomenon may be occurring in the US.
In a recent survey, 31% of US couples polled said that COVID-19 had been a strain on their relationship. Legal services provider LegalTemplates also reported that sales for their "divorce agreement" templates had gone up by 34% in recent months compared to the equivalent time period in 2019.
Although the divorce rate in the US has decreased steadily over the years, the COVID-19 pandemic could be responsible for a significant spike in 2020.
Now, let's take a look at some of the reasons why COVID-19 is causing marriages to end.
Financial Instability Is an Issue for Many Spouses
Money problems are one of the leading causes for divorce as-is, and many spouses aren't great at discussing finances—studies have shown that in around 34% of cohabiting couples, one or both partners failed to identify how much money their significant other made.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been responsible for the biggest economic downturn in the US since the 1940s—over 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits since the pandemic's outset.
A lack of willingness to discuss financial issues and an economic crisis mix like oil and water. For many couples that struggled with finances before the pandemic, this will be the breaking point.
Lockdowns Force Couples to Spend Time Cooped Up Together
Many spouses rely on the time they get away from one another at locations like work or with friends to make their marriage healthy. Thanks to COVID-19-related stay-at-home and quarantine orders, spouses now find themselves isolated together, and lack the opportunity to "take breaks" from another.
For couples that have more autonomous relationships, that lack of healthy separation could spell disaster.
Parents Have to Deal with Challenging Circumstances
Compounding on all these issues, schools across the country have shut down to help reduce the spread of the virus among students. As a result, kids now learn online at home—thrusting many parents into the role of de factor teacher's aide.
It may also be difficult for parents to maintain (or find) employment while simultaneously looking after their child's education, even if they are fortunate to work from home. In some households, the increased stress of this situation could be enough to spell the end of the parents' relationship.
At Lettario & Haug, LLP., we help clients successfully navigate the divorce process.
To schedule a consultation with our team and receive legal counsel you can trust, contact our office online, or via phone at (845) 203-0997.