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Are Divorce Cases on the Rise During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Living together can be complicated in the best of times, but couples co-existing under COVID-19 quarantine conditions face special challenges. Staying at home can put added strain on relationships that were already struggling to survive. Normal day-to-day issues, like money problems, handling chores, and arguing over the children, can have more negative impact than ever before. An added lack of exercise, not being able to see friends, and losing one’s job can cause irreparable damage to a family unit, whether children are involved or not. 

The coronavirus pandemic has forced couples to spend more time together with less resources, causing more strain on relationships. Quarantine tensions prevent couples from carrying out their regular routines, and sometimes, spending so much time together without breaks can cause rifts.

Divorce Rates Surged in China

When Chinese couples began emerging from quarantine in China back in March, divorce filing rates started to rise. The cities of Dazhou and Xian reported record-high numbers for filings that month, and there were lengthy backlogs at the governmental offices. Domestic violence incidents had also increased.

In the past, infidelity was the main reason for divorces in China, but during quarantine, it was harder to carry out extramarital affairs. Also, many Chinese families were quarantined with extended family members, which made things even worse. One Shanghai divorce lawyer claimed that his caseload increased by 25 percent.

Many experts anticipate that there will be an influx in divorce in the United States. American couples were forced under stay-at-home orders throughout the nation, and now that orders are starting to lift, couples may soon be able to pursue divorce.

How Does a Pandemic Impact a Relationship?

Susan Newman, Ph.D., explained how the pandemic is affecting couples in an article posted by Psychology Today. In the future, COVID-19 may be compared to previous outbreaks and past natural disasters, but it is different in many ways. The main factor is its unpredictability; people do not know how long it will last or if it will mutate and change into something else. The pandemic is also so large, and global responses have been inconsistent and unclear at times. Basically, people do not know how or when it will end.

Like most people, couples who are used to socializing with others and going out can become frustrated by the lack of human contact. When this is combined with financial hurdles, worries about the health of loved ones, and other emotional pressures, it can build up to a boiling point. Newman feels that this lack of freedom and other fallouts could lead to an increase in the divorce rate during and after the pandemic.

Domestic Violence Increases

Times of crisis that impose severe pressures on people living under the same roof can also lead to domestic violence. A spouse can become victim to physical, emotional, financial, or sexual violence when the other spouse attempts to assert power through physical harm or intimidation. The victims may also have limited access to medical or other assistance, which makes things worse.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists certain factors that can contribute to domestic violence, such as depression, low income, unemployment, high alcohol consumption, low self-esteem, frequent anger, jealousy, and social isolation. Pre-pandemic resources, like community agencies, support groups, friends, and family, may not be available to victims.

Will There be a Divorce Spike in the United States?

Though there are no official statistics to confirm a COVID-19-related divorce spike in the United States, some experts feel that there will be a direct link. One therapist stated that the increases in unemployment, anxiety, depression, grief, loss, and domestic violence are all predictors of a surge in divorces.

It is also difficult to track divorces during this time since many of the courts have been closed. In many areas, there has been no electronic filing available except for emergencies. It is also not possible to know if the couples that have been filing are doing so for other reasons or because of the pandemic. Aside from court closures, those who do file can encounter more hurdles, like reduced incomes and property.

If a spouse is looking for a divorce during this time, he or she will face many challenges. Depending on the state, some courts will allow for urgent divorce cases. During this time and in the near future, it is advisable to speak to a family law attorney right away if a spouse is considering divorce. An experienced lawyer will determine the best course of action and will address the concerns of his or her client.

Baltimore County Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Offer Trusted Legal Guidance to Clients Seeking Divorce

Making the decision to divorce is never easy, but the caring, experienced Baltimore County divorce lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC will be with you every step of the way. The legal process of divorce is difficult, and during this unprecedented time, cases are even more complex. For a free consultation, call us at 443-589-0150 or complete our online form. Located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, we serve clients throughout Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Bentley Springs, Columbia, Freeland, Hereford, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.

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