As our country adjusts to the “new normal” and COVID-19 alters every aspect of our lives, we couldn’t help but wonder – how will this impact the divorce rates during this time? The initial thought is that for those couples on the cusp of cracking the “stay at home” orders and all that comes along with our economic turmoil will certainly speed up a breaking point. Couples who may have been passively contemplating a divorce now may be actively ready to proceed. This got us thinking about the top three driving forces that will most likely result in a rise in divorce during this time:
- Quarantine “revelations”
- Intensive time spent together
- Financial Issues related to the impact of COVID-19
With life and death, wellness and illness on everyone’s minds, a lot of self-reflection is happening. People are thinking about the meaning of it all and what is truly important to them. Spending time in a love-less or unhappy marriage may not be tolerable any longer. The COVID-19 crisis could become the push people need to actually take steps towards starting their divorce. No time like the present.
Intensive time spent together
When we want to avoid thinking about something the phrase “out of sight, out of mind” applies. But what about when you are now stuck under the same roof living, working and surviving a crisis with someone you cannot (and are ordered by state mandate) get away from 24/7? That small annoyance you may have been able to overlook may now be a huge glaring hurdle to being able to look at your spouse the same way. What may have been a slow-growing distance is now accelerated. Something you may have taken months to marinate on is all you can think about these last few weeks. Also, crisis and how we respond to crisis can often highlight the true nature or character of a person. COVID-19 is putting all things into sharp perspective.
Financial Issues related to the impact of COVID-19
One of the top reasons people get divorced is related to money. And, finances are also a huge part of the divorce process. With the economy in turmoil, the stock market in the tank and a steady paycheck and uncertainty, couples are having to face harsh realities. If finances were already a rift in your marriage, these increasingly tough times may bring those to the forefront. If you are now no longer able to afford your home and are thinking of moving, does that mean you plan to move without your spouse? You may be looking to hold onto what remains of your retirement account and assess how to protect it. All this to say that when we panic about our financial house, it can sometimes crash down on our marriage.
Time will tell if the COVID-19 crisis does lead to a spike in divorce. That said, if you are contemplating a divorce and one or all of the three points above has brought that thought into focus for you, Martine, Katz Scanlon & Schimmel, P.A. is available for consultations. We are fully compliant with the directives of the State of New Jersey and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania but remain operational to clients via phone and video conference.