The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives, including our relationships. While it’s common for married couples to argue from time to time, the stress of the pandemic has brought these arguments to a new level in many homes, resulting in more people interested in divorce. We’re going to take a look at how COVID-19 affected the divorce rate, its impact, and what you can do if you are considering divorce or separation.
Pandemic Drives Couples to Divorce or to Seek Help
The stress of the COVID-19 pandemic has led more people to think about divorce because it has turned our home dynamic upside down. People who used to leave each other for the day to go to work are now sharing a kitchen table as they work from home. Other people lost their jobs due to COVID which put a heavy financial burden on many marriages. Money problems are among the top reasons why people get divorced.
Children who went to school all day were now being taught from home, putting stress on parents as they tried to balance it all. Worries about health and how to keep families safe while possibly dealing with sick relatives also added tension to relationships.
When people are feeling stressed out, they often tend to take out their frustrations on each other, resulting in more arguments. Combine all these elements and you have the perfect recipe for a rise in more people thinking about divorce.
Other underlying issues may be at play as well. According to the National Law Review, another factor that may contribute to the increased divorce rate is the absence of people’s support systems. For many, a night out with friends to release some tension or a trip to the local coffee shop to vent about relationship issues were no longer options. While some used this as an outlet, for others, this was a way to avoid problems in their marriage. With none of those an option during the pandemic, many people were forced to deal with the issues in their marriage head-on. As those issues became clearer, they came to realize that they no longer wanted to be in their marriages.
Divorce Rates and COVID-19
When you look at the divorce rate in 2019, it’s interesting to note that it hit a 50-year low with only 14.9 marriages out of 1000 ending in divorce. This information from the Institute of Family Studies coupled with census data that showed that the median duration of current marriages increased from 19 years in 2010 to 19.8 years in 2019, made it appear that the divorce rate was on a downward trend.
Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and everyone became uncertain about what this was going to mean for marriage and divorce. This rocked couples’ relationships as they were forced to spend more time with their loved ones. The increased time spent with loved ones may have exposed issues that couples never noticed or gave them more time to think about issues they were having.
When you consider results from an American Family Survey, they could indicate that we could see more divorces as 2021 moves on. The survey found 34% of married men and women under age 55 reported the pandemic has increased stress in their marriage. This stress was highest among those who had financial problems as a result of COVID-19. Among those whose finances got worse, 45% reported their relationships had new stressors.
Besides money problems, the pandemic also brought some unfavorable behavior that may have driven couples apart. Substance abuse and online cheating are other ways that COVID-19 may affect the divorce rate. With limited activities and more time spent at home, some turned to alcohol and other vices to cope. Excessive drinking can lead to other behaviors and even violence in some cases. As more people spend time at home and look for ways to get away from their spouse, they may spend more time online looking at dating or pornography sites. This type of behavior may also put stress on a relationship and force people to think about divorce.
Although many couples were feeling the stress of the pandemic and the impact it had on their marriage, others have found that the pandemic brought them closer together. The AFS also found that 65% of married adults who say the pandemic worsened their financial situation say it made them appreciate their spouse more. Another 60% said the experience made them more committed to their marriages.
You also have to consider this. For many, specifically, those who didn’t have money problems due to the pandemic, say this past year has made them closer to their spouse. Another study found that married couples ages 18-55 who believe their marriage was in trouble dropped from 40% in 2019 to 29% in 2020. Time will tell if this will lead to a drop in the divorce rate or if other circumstances surround the pandemic will lead people to eventually divorce once things settle down.
COVID-19 and New Marriages
While much focus is put on how COVID-19 affected the divorce rate, it’s also interesting to look at how it’s impacted new marriages. Many people were forced to postpone their 2020 weddings due to the pandemic. This could lead to actual weddings in the near future or may lead to more breakups and fewer marriages. Couples forced to wait to get married may have begun to have second thoughts.
Then, there are those that are thinking about marriage. It appears the number of engagements is increasing with jewelry ring sales on the rise. With finances on the minds of many, there could be couples who put off getting married until they are on more stable financial footings. Time will tell if these new purchases will eventually lead to a trip down the aisle or in a breakup.
COVID’s Effect on Interest in Divorce
Statistics show that the number of people interested in divorce jumped 34% from March 2020 to June 2020 compared to the same time in 2019. Thirty-one percent of couples have also admitted that lockdown has caused irreparable damage to their relationships. The pandemic has hit newlyweds especially hard with 20% of couples married five months or less seeking divorce during that time. That’s nearly double the rate compared to 2019. While COVID has certainly had its impact, some psychologists note that many couples had problems before the pandemic, and they only got worse during lockdown.
Although divorce can be difficult, it is a new beginning and a chance to really see what’s important and to reevaluate your life and goals. Many people may have been in an unhealthy relationship for years and never had the time to see it. After the pandemic gave them that time and perspective, they had a chance to evaluate their relationships and make positive choices for their lives.
But, although they may be inquiring about divorce, there’s no strong indication that people are acting on it. This may be for several reasons. It’s a fact that the COVID-19 put many court cases on hold. Knowing this, many people may have been holding off on getting a divorce because they were aware of the impact the pandemic was having on the court system.
Another reason why people may not be jumping on their desire to get a divorce is that it’s just not practical right now. This could be for financial reasons or personal ones. As everyone begins to get back to some type of normal, it’s just easier for some couples to stay together. It could be to continue to homeschool children or to get back on a better financial note. Whatever the case, running to get a divorce is not a priority for some right now.Divorce proceedings can become expensive. That cost may be one that couples can’t handle right now with everything else going on. Many couples may be waiting until their financial situation becomes clearer before making any life-changing decisions.
If people are not ready to divorce, they may consider separating for a while to think things through and get a clearer head. This time away can make them more confident in whatever they decide.
COVID has left a lasting impact on marriages everywhere, for better or for worse. Time will tell if people will eventually divorce once things settle down or whether they’ll try to work through problems the pandemic brought to light.
Are You Considering Separation or Divorce?
If you’re considering separation or divorce due to the COVID-19 pandemic or for other reasons, the Jimenez Law Firm can help. We have the expertise needed to get you through this difficult time. You can feel confident knowing that our North and West Texas divorce lawyers will explain everything to you so that you can make the best decision.
We will look at all of the facts of your case and educate you about the obstacles you may have and the potential outcome of your case. After a consultation, you can decide whether divorce is the best route to take. If so, you’ll want to begin gathering documents such as information on property and assets as well as bank records. These are going to be needed especially if there are children involved and support needs to be determined.
At The Jimenez Law Firm, we deal with the many issues that are involved in divorce proceedings. These include:
- Child custody and support
- Property distribution
- Spousal support
- Community property
It’s important to know that every divorce is different. Some can be complex and drag on especially if both parties cannot come to any agreements. Once our offices are retained we will begin on your case immediately. We know that many people want these proceedings over as quickly as possible. We do our best to make this happen and get the best outcome possible for you.