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Why COVID-19 May Cause the US Divorce Rate to Increase

For most Americans, the COVID-19 pandemic has monopolized 2020. From an unexpected financial crisis to lengthy stay-at-home orders and quarantines, the pandemic has impacted our day-to-day lives in various ways.

Now, it looks like marriage may be on the line for many couples. Today, we're exploring why the divorce rate in the US may increase as a result of COVID-19 (and some things you can do strengthen the bond with your partner).

Is the US Divorce Rate Spiking Because of COVID-19?

Currently, the answer seems to be "yes." From March to July, contract provider LegalTemplates saw a 34% increase in divorce agreement sales compared to the same period during 2019. Additionally, a survey of couples found that 31% said COVID-19 quarantines caused "irreparable damage" to their relationships.

If the divorce rate spikes in the US due to COVID-19, it won't be the first time. Once coronavirus-related quarantines lifted in China, couples flooded the country's legal system with divorce paperwork. In some cities, clerks saw a historic number of divorce filings—in Miluo, "staff members didn't even have time to drink water" because they were so busy processing divorce paperwork.

Why Would COVID-19 Cause the Divorce Rate to Increase?

Many people might find an increased divorce rate surprising, especially because the divorce rate in the US has declined in recent years.

A few key factors may play into an increased divorce rate during the era of COVID-19:

  • Economic instability. Over 40 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as a result of job losses instigated by the pandemic. Many of those people are still searching for new employment. Money issues are a key cause of divorce for married couples. Unemployment can cause instability for couples who are acclimated to a certain income. Additionally, financial problems can increase volatility in relationships, as people caught up in the job search may be stressed out and generally more irritable. Even spouses who maintain their jobs may be on-edge. Essential workers might worry about bringing the virus home, and other workers could fear that they'll soon find themselves unemployed.
  • No alone time. For many couples, the time they spend away from one another at work or with friends helps maintain a healthy balance in the relationship. Spouses cooped up at home during stay-at-home orders don't have those outlets, leading to fighting between partners.
  • The kids are home, too. Schools across the country closed down and shifted towards online learning. That doesn't appear to be changing for the 2020/2021 school year. As a result, many parents find themselves playing de facto teacher's aide for their child. Add more parental responsibilities to the stressors we've already covered, and it's not a good recipe for stable relationships.

How Can I Breathe Life into My Relationship?

If COVID-19 is putting stress on your relationship, there are a few things you can do to reconnect with your partner:

  • Set up new schedules. There's a good chance both of you now work from home or have different schedules than you did pre-COVID-19, so don't keep living life the same way. If you had a commute before the pandemic, think of ways you can spend that time strengthening your relationship with your partner. Maybe you can go on a run or walk together in the time you'd normally spend driving to work, or just have a nice meal together. Maybe that's time you can be alone and meditate or read a book. Think about how you can rework your schedule to make life a little easier.
  • Find new opportunities. While the COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to close their doors, there are still ways you can have fun with your partner. See if there are any drive-in theatres near you. Look into other opportunities, like hiking or camping spots in your area. Figuring out new ways to have dates or spend some quality one-on-one time is essential.
  • Create a space for dedicated alone time. Even if you're in the same house (or apartment) with your partner all the time, you still need alone time. You should each set aside some quality time for a specific activity, like meditation, exercise, reading, playing a videogame, etc. Then, tell each other how long you want to spend on that activity. You should commit to letting your partner spend that time alone without disruptions, and vice versa. Maintaining your independence is important!

Dealing with this pandemic hasn't been easy for anyone. But taking the right steps can help you strengthen the bond you share.

Of course, it may simply be time for you to go your separate ways. If you feel that divorce is in your best interests, our divorce lawyers here at Bremer Whyte Brown & O'Meara can help you dissolve your marriage peacefully and effectively.

To schedule a consultation with our team or learn more about our family law services, contact us online or via phone at (949) 229-8546.