When the Covid-19 pandemic began in the U.S. and states issued stay-at-home orders, everyone felt the pressure. And it created many logistical and legal issues for couples in the midst of divorce and couples sharing child custody. Courts largely shut down, making it difficult to complete family law proceedings or to hold a co-parent accountable for violating a custody order. Many co-parents were also hesitant to even move their kids between households for fear of increasing their exposure to the virus.
Although the pandemic is far from over, courts have since reopened and things are moving again on that front. But the extended stress and life changes caused by Covid-19 are now leading to other issues, including a predicted spike in divorce rates.
In early August, Ipsos released the results of a poll about relationship changes during the Covid-19 pandemic. The results are eye-opening:
- About 10 percent of respondents who are married or partnered say they are “very likely” to separate from their partner, citing coronavirus-related issues as at least one reason for the planned split
- About 30 percent of those who are married/partnered say that during the Covid-19 pandemic, they are more annoyed with their significant other than usual
- About 20 percent of married/partnered people report that they are arguing with their significant other more often during the pandemic
In some respects, these poll responses aren’t surprising. Nearly all of us have felt the stress and relationship friction that comes with being forced to spend most of your time at home with the same people for extended periods of time. But the percentage of respondents considering ending their relationships is concerning. Family law attorneys are already seeing an increase in the number of prospective clients inquiring about divorce, and the end of the pandemic is nowhere in sight.
Having minor children at home can also exacerbate the strain that couples are feeling, in large part, because there is never an opportunity to take even a short break from parenting. And in households where parental duties were already out of balance, the pandemic has been especially deleterious to marriages.
If you are among the many Americans considering ending your marriage during this difficult time, you can hopefully take some solace in the knowledge that you are not alone. If you ultimately decide that divorce is necessary, please contact an experienced family law attorney in your area to discuss options and next steps.