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Will the Divorce Rate Go Up After the Pandemic?

Spouse cutting hair in bathroom during pandemic
By FindLaw Staff on July 08, 2020

The ongoing pandemic will likely have long-term repercussions on everything from health systems to bankruptcies to workplaces. But it will also have societal effects on families, children, and marriages for years to come.

Divorce rates will undoubtedly spike as courts put most divorce proceedings on hold during the quarantine. Other courts have continued taking cases at a limited capacity, which has created a queue of pending divorces.

If the enormous spikes in divorce in China are any indication, we might be looking at a surge of divorces in the coming months.

Marriage and family therapists, as well as divorce attorneys, are speculating that couples heading for divorce will be beyond reconciliation or "playing fair." The pandemic, quarantine, and social isolation may have pushed many couples to the point of no return.

There will also be cases of couples amicably calling it quits after spending so much time together, and realizing the relationship is not for them. There are also anecdotes of people deciding they want a divorce during the pandemic but waiting until they are more financially sound to actually file.

In such an extraordinary situation, attorneys are seeing pandemic divorce reasons range from minor annoyances becoming overwhelming to major financial or parenting concerns.

There may also be financial challenges as people need to:

  • Seek unemployment resources
  • File for business bankruptcy or payback small business loans
  • Foreclose on a home after job loss
  • Pay for housing or care for sick family members or parents
  • Divide marital property while there is a low return on assets
  • Split depressed investments and stocks
  • Reassess affordable child support or alimony payments

How Divorce Attorneys Are Preparing

Attorneys should be keenly aware of the temporary laws in their state and be current on health precautions. Many are opting to handle divorce cases by video chat until courts reopen and judges wish to see them in person.

Divorce cases that have protective hearings, such as filing for protection orders or discussing domestic violence, will generally take precedence as courts reopen. Once spouses and families are out of immediate danger, courts should start to tackle pending divorce cases.

Many attorneys also offer:

  • e-Sign services, such as signing an Acceptance of Service online
  • Secure portals for document sharing and uploading
  • Using essential worker third parties (like a sheriff) to serve documents

Social distancing can cause new legal problems, such as courts not having a way to compel spouses to submit documents or file contempt cases. Courts and legal professionals are navigating their way forward on a county or state basis.

Do You Think About Getting a Divorce?

Overall, the problems outlined above should not make you wait on a divorce. While this is unknown territory, yours will likely not be the first divorce an attorney is working on during the pandemic. An experienced attorney should know what to expect in the process.

Finances, parenting time, and child support may have different outcomes than you were expecting after the pandemic; however, you still have the right to fight for the divorce agreement you want.

Are You Ready to Take Steps Toward Divorce?

If you are ready to file for divorce, consider reviewing your job status, finances, and the impact the past months have had on you. As courts reopen, issues like finding new housing or buying and selling a home may come up faster than you expect, so it is important to be prepared.

If you have questions, you can read more about these essential issues to consider:

More Related Resources:

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