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Unprecedented Rates of Divorce During COVID-19 Pandemic

October 5, 2020

The financial and emotional pressures placed on families during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have changed relationships. The pandemic has forced many people into isolation and increased their dependence on technology. It has also caused everyone to spend a lot more time with a few people while not being able to see other loved ones. The pandemic is testing the strength and weaknesses of relationships.

The severe lockdowns placed in many parts of the world and isolation, restrictions, death, and sick loved ones highly impacted married couples. China, which experienced the earliest and strictest lockdowns, reported extreme backlogs in early March caused by a record number of divorce filings.

What is Contributing to High Divorce Rates?

There are several reasons that are causing couples to divorce. A pandemic can expose problems in the marriage that were ignored because it forces couples to spend all their time together. The pandemic brings out vulnerabilities and magnifies them, intensifying conflicts in many relationships, including marriages. Some common reasons for the increase in divorce cases include:

Too Much Time Together

Couples in normal conditions typically spend 2.5 to 3.5 hours together on weekdays. Even though couples spend more time on the weekends together, this time was usually spent socializing and doing errands. However, the pandemic has forced couples to spend all of their time together without any breaks. This can cause a lot of strain on the couple’s relationship and exacerbate problems that the couples may have already had with communication and parenting philosophies. Unhealthy habits in a marriage can be amplified when the couple is together all the time, causing tensions to rise.

Burden Sharing

Couples also experience greater strain at home with homeschooling, more cooking, and housework. Women have been disproportionately affected in taking on the extra burdens of schooling and housework along with work. Tensions are higher when one spouse has undertaken more of the strain of parenting, schooling, and housework, causing resentment.

Differing Styles

Another reason couples are experiencing conflict is due to different coping methods and philosophies on how to tackle the pandemic. One spouse may dislike the other’s attitude toward sanitization procedures. One may be more vigilant while the other might be more lenient. Conflicts may arise with regard to different tolerances regarding social distancing.

Strain on Finances

The pandemic has forced many to close businesses or lose jobs or income.  Decreasing income can lead to financial pressure to pay for basic necessities, medical treatments, and housing, burdening the relationship. Inability to pay for necessities can lead to divorce.

Illness and Death

Couples also experience stressors related to sicknesses. When a spouse is ill due to COVID-19, it can cause strain from caring for the ill spouse. The death of a loved one can cause trauma and depression, requiring spouses to be more sensitive to each other. If the spouse does not receive the emotional support needed, that spouse may feel jilted and resent the other, causing additional conflict in the marriage.

Children

Couples with young children experience more strain due to the extra effort needed to care for the young children in the family. If the burden is not shared, it can lead to one spouse’s resentment. Due to the pandemic, couples cannot rely on outside help to ease the burden of child care and have to undertake all of the care on their own. Also, couples need to educate their children. Educating children during the pandemic presents a lot of challenges, including lack of alone time and issues with technology.

Technology Fatigue

Too much technology dependence and use of video conferencing can lead to fatigue. Many couples are facing issues due to lack of social interaction with others, leading to mental illness, depression, and abuse. 

Disconnection and Abuse

Physical and mental abuse are also on the rise. During the pandemic, social services that helped to curb abuse in families are not able to make regular visits.  Children are not going to school, so child abuse is not being detected or reported.  Also, lack of social interaction with others helps perpetrators continue abuse. If one is facing a domestic abuse situation, they may need to file a petition for Protection from Abuse order (PFA). These petitions are designed to protect one and their children. One may also need to file one in an emergency.

Substance abuse, addictions, and other emotional issues are also the rise.  Spouses struggling to cope with alcoholism, drug or pornography addiction are also increasing divorce filings as well.

Are There Alternatives to Divorce?

In Alabama, a couple seeking divorce has to have lived in the county where they are filing for divorce for at least six months. Couples can file for divorce for one of 12 enumerated reasons. Divorce laws in Alabama can vary by county.

Couples can also consider alternatives to divorce, such as annulment and legal separation, depending on the circumstances of the marriage. Requirements for each of the alternatives will vary. When children are involved in child custody, child support laws and guidelines will apply. Spousal support may include securing payments through life insurance policies. During COVID-19, there has been an increase in life insurance policy payouts as the pandemic is encouraging many to engage in end-of-life planning and policies that cover death from the COVID-19 virus.

Couples can also consider a no-contest divorce if they are able to come to terms, divide their assets, and agree to child custody issues by drawing up settlement agreements. If however, the couple is unable to agree to terms, then the couple will need to file for divorce. A lawyer will be able to help with this process.

Huntsville Divorce Lawyers at Hodges Trial Lawyers, P.C. Help Clients Understand Divorce Proceedings

If you are considering divorce, it is important to place your trust in a qualified and competent attorney. Our Huntsville divorce lawyers at Hodges Trial Lawyers, P.C. protect their clients through divorce proceedings and ensure they receive fair settlements. For an initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 256-539-3110. Located in Huntsville and Athens, Alabama, we serve clients throughout North Alabama, Madison County, Limestone County, Marshall County, Jackson County, Morgan County, and Lauderdale County.