Will Coronavirus Cause A Rise in the Divorce Rate?

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With the continuing spread of COVID-19, we face a number of new challenges. We’re dealing with school closures and social distancing, many people have lost their jobs, and coronavirus continues to cause drastic changes in our daily lives.

With such an unprecedented situation, there’s a lot we don’t know. This is uncharted territory for all of us. One question that’s popped up frequently thus far is how coronavirus will impact the divorce rate.

Will Coronavirus Lead to More Divorces?

We’ve heard reports that China has seen a spike in divorces from married couples quarantined together. Parliament also told the U.K. to expect a similar trend. If you’ve spent any time at all on social media lately, you’ve probably encountered a variety of memes to that effect.

Many people expect to see that happen in the U.S. as well. And that’s the real question, will COVID-19 also lead to a spike in divorce filings here? At the moment, there hasn’t been, but some expect it’s only a matter of time.

Wondering the same thing, KIRO 7 News turned to Rick Jones, one of our founding partners, for his assessment. Like most people, in this industry and beyond, he thinks it’s certainly possible though maybe not a foregone conclusion.

Still, speaking to the reporter (via video conference, we practice responsible social distancing), Rick offered some insight into the situation:

“Even in families that work well together, there are roles to play, and those roles include one or both of the parents getting up and going to work, or the child being in school…So to all of a sudden have these roles massively changed in a time that we’re all feeling incredibly stretched emotionally is definitely a stressor.”

Some people guess this isolation, couples being forced to spend almost all of their time together, will lead to a bump in new divorce filings similar to what we see in the month of January. People often wait until after the holidays, pushing through so they don’t cause any undue strain and stress.

Once the quarantine lifts and people have more freedom to move around, some suspect there will be a comparable rush to file. Perhaps some people intended to pursue divorce, but opted to wait until afterward to avoid making a difficult situation even worse, or because access to the courts is limited at the moment. No one wants to be stuck at home with the spouse you just started divorcing.

Another possibility is that the pressure of being so close together for so long might exacerbate already existing tension. If a relationship teetered on the edge to begin with, this might provide the final push. Again, this mirrors what often happens near the holidays. That’s a stressful time, and if a relationship is already damaged, it might be the proverbial last straw.

No matter what the situation, a lot of people are having a tough time right now. Rick ended with a bit of advice you might not anticipate from someone in our line of work:

“You might not expect this from a divorce attorney, but I would say tough it out. Understand that you’re stretched. Everyone is. So be kind to each other.”

As we deal with the continued fallout of coronavirus, we could all stand to treat each other a little better, especially now.

Related Reading: Divorce and Coronavirus FAQs

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