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Why Is the Divorce Rate Going Up During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Marriage can be difficult under the best of circumstances, with couples dealing with financial issues, disagreements about parenting, sharing household responsibilities, and even boredom. When you add to those issues the stress of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is no wonder that the divorce rate has been spiking over the past several months.

According to national data, the divorce rate for couples married five months or less had already begun rising in April when national lockdowns started, with 20 percent seeking divorce, compared to just 11 percent of those couples during that same timeframe in 2019.

In one survey of divorce lawyers across the country, the overall divorce rate from April through July jumped between 25 to 35 percent compared to the same time period in 2019. It is predicted that those numbers will keep rising as the pandemic continues.

Why the Increase?

In addition to the “normal” marital issues couples have, the pandemic has left families dealing with the added frustration of being stuck in the house, limited to where they can go and what activities they can engage in. There is now the added stress of homeschooling children, dealing with virtual learning, trying to work from home themselves, or trying to find childcare because their jobs require they work onsite. Many families have also had to deal with the financial uncertainty and job losses that that pandemic has caused, as well as the illness and/or deaths of loved ones.

There are even couples who disagree on COVID-safety. Couples may disagree on what types of activities are safe to participate in, places that are safe to visit, or even if mask-wearing is necessary.

The pandemic has also made it difficult for many of us to access our support systems. The ability to get together with friends and vent about your spouse is really not an option right now with all the restrictions that governors have put in place and recommendations of staying within your home “bubble.” With all of these factors impacting relationships, it’s no surprise that more than 30 percent of couples surveyed admitted that the pandemic and lockdown has caused irreparable damage to their marriage.

Filing for Divorce

While the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we do a lot of things, couples can still file for divorce. The process may be a little different since the courts are limiting the number of people at courthouses and hearings held, but an experienced Rhode Island divorce attorney can help navigate you through this process and negotiate a fair divorce settlement and parenting agreement.

There is even the possibility that portions of your divorce process may be conducted remotely instead of in-person. If you and your spouse can work out an agreement with the assistance of your attorneys that only needs approval by a judge, this may be able to be conducted through the use of Zoom. If other hearings are needed, such as a pretrial conference, the court may order those to be conducted remotely, as well.

Parenting Issues

Couples who are already divorced may be facing some issues over custody during the pandemic. Some of the most common issues include the concern of virus transmission during custody exchanges or different ideas on mask-wearing and social distancing between parents.

If you are having co-parenting issues during the pandemic, it is critical that you comply with the custody order currently in place. Do not deny parenting time to the other parent, even if you disagree with how they are handling the pandemic. Instead, contact your Rhode Island family lawyer to discuss what legal options you may have. You should also contact your attorney right away if you are the parent who is being denied parenting time.

Family Law Issues

Whether you are filing for divorce, having custody issues, or any other family law issues, the Rhode Island family lawyers from Kirshenbaum Law Associates are here to help. In the wake of COVID-19 and social distancing recommendations, keeping our clients and employees healthy and safe is our top priority. Our office will continue to be open for business, but we are offering phone and Zoom consultations and appointments.

Call our office at 401-467-5300 for a confidential consultation with a skilled Rhode Island family attorney and find out how we can help.