Written By: Veralynn Morris
In a follow-up to an earlier piece, today, we are going to talk about how COVID-19 has affected divorce. While some of the global pandemic’s effects are plain to see and clearly felt by many, for some, it isn’t as obvious to see how many have been personally affected. However, there is no doubting that the pandemic has interrupted normal life for most if not everybody. We are establishing a new normal, watching how the disease impacts us interpersonally, economically, and globally. Currently, in the United States, we are watching the number of COVID-19 cases begin to rise again.
COVID-19 and Couples
COVID-19 brought with it not only illness, but immense stress on both individuals and their families. Coronavirus and its necessary isolation have meant that many are around their families and partners more than they have been before, introducing a new stressor to relationships. For some, this near constant interaction has led to couples engaging with each other in new ways. They are learning about new issues they might have or they are finally being confronted with the time to address them. Some of these are personal issues, but more is at play here, including financial issues and other day-to-day concerns. COVID-19 is allowing people to take long and serious looks at the people they married. It is an established fact that spending more time with a partner in close quarters can increase chances of divorce.
As stated before, shelter-in-place has also brought strife to currently divorcing couples, leaving them forced to quarantine with one another despite their separation. This leads to interactions that can reach a fever pitch when there is little opportunity to escape or to be alone.
Many believe that more couples will begin divorce proceedings as a result of COVID-19. However, there are factors at play that constrain divorces as well. People physically cannot separate. It is hard to spend long breaks of time away from a shared home. As well, if they have them, couples need to take care of their children, especially now without childcare that open and public schooling provides.
COVID-19 and Current Divorces
It should also be noted that there is a major backlog of divorce cases in courts, resulting from many local and statewide legal systems being closed or operating at a reduced caseload. Even though a couple may be sure and certain that they want to pursue a divorce, the legal processes to take care of it may extend the timeline.
COVID-19 has also affected people’s lives post-divorce. Co-parenting is a serious issue. Where people live, and whether or not they are near or far away from hotspots, has become an issue. Some people want their children to remain as far away from the epicenters of disease as possible, while others are less concerned about the potential for the spread of disease.
Just as well, many public transportation systems have shut down or are working at limited capacities. Public childcare opportunities have also closed. Parents are now having to work around these barriers, communicating more and changing standard agreements based on how the disease has impacted them. Routine is something critical to divorced families and COVID-19 has served as nothing but a disruption to them.
Some people believe that COVID-19 will cause divorce rates to increase in the coming months and years. While there are many factors at play, including age married, length of relationship, and emotional strengths, the pandemic is one factor that nobody saw coming and its unpredictability means that no one can quite pinpoint how it will play out and continue to affect our lives.