What Impact Has COVID Had on Divorce Rates?

From the constant fear of getting sick or losing someone to COVID-19 to the daily stress of having to work and do school from home, as well as the economic, political, and social impact that the pandemic continues to have, it should come as no surprise that the divorce rates have increased significantly over the course of the pandemic. Even the most stable, long-term marriages started to reveal some cracks from the enormous stress caused by factors like job loss, the emotional toll that the lockdown has had, and the added pressure parents have to help their children navigate the effects of the pandemic. If you and your spouse are considering a divorce due to the increased conflict, stress and arguing related to the COVID pandemic, contact an experienced divorce lawyer.

What Are the Common Causes of COVID-Related Divorces?

The combination of social distancing, lockdowns, increased time spent together, and the daily stress associated with a global pandemic are the catalyst for marital problems, particularly if the couple was already having problems. The following are some of the most common causes of divorce during the COVID pandemic:

  • Disagreements about the severity of COVID. While the exact origins of the COVID-19 virus are still unknown, the virus has caused over 5.5 million deaths and over 342 million infections around the world. However, there are still a significant number of people who are skeptical about the existence of COVID or the severity of the virus. If one spouse believes that COVID poses a serious health risk, they may closely follow the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If the other spouse does not believe that COVID exists, or that it does not pose a serious threat to adults or children, this can cause serious problems in the marriage. 
  • Disagreements over the COVID vaccine. This is particularly problematic if the couple has children and both spouses are not on the same page when it comes to the vaccine. If one spouse believes that the COVID virus poses a much more significant health threat than the vaccine, and that the vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect the whole family from getting the virus and spreading it to other people, this can cause marital disagreements if the other spouse is skeptical about the vaccine and feels strongly that the children should not be vaccinated.
  • Parenting-related disagreements: High tensions can be very difficult for the children, particularly when their parents are constantly arguing with each other. While parenting is challenging under normal circumstances, a global pandemic creates a wide range of challenges that parents have never had to navigate before, including whether the children should wear masks, whether they should attend school or be home-schooled and whether or not they should be vaccinated. These are difficult issues to manage if both parents are on the same page. When they are not, the marriage can quickly fall apart.
  • Emphasizing existing problems. If there were problems in the marriage prior to the pandemic, including addiction issues, poor communication, or abusive behavior, these issues are likely to be exacerbated during the pandemic.
  • Financial issues. The pandemic has had a devastating impact on the economy and the job market, particularly during the height of the pandemic when places like restaurants, movie theaters and performance venues shut down. In addition, during the period of time when schools were closed, children were doing remote learning from home, which meant that parents had to figure out who was going to be home with the children. If the financial impact of COVID-19 leads to a long-term recession, couples could face ongoing money problems.
  • Job loss. In addition to the financial impact of losing one’s job, the stress and embarrassment of being fired or laid off can cause problems in a relationship. The unemployed person may take their frustrations, anger, and lowered self-esteem out on the other spouse. This can put a great deal of strain on a relationship, particularly if the unemployed spouse is unemployed for an extended period of time.
  • Lack of work-life balance. Prior to the pandemic, working from home was less common. While there are benefits to working remotely, it is not always an ideal scenario, particularly when couples are forced to spend every waking hour under the same roof. For example, if one spouse is a workaholic, and often prioritizes their career over the marriage and family, and the other spouse is committed to striking a healthy balance with work and family life, this takes a toll on a marriage.
  • Too much time together. While some couples welcomed the imposed quality time, others found that it exacerbated existing problems or turned minor annoyances into major problems. The inability to leave the house, coupled with the indefinite nature of the pandemic made it difficult for some couples to ignore problems that may have seemed like minor issues before the pandemic.

What Does the Research Reveal About Pandemic-Related Divorces?

According to a recent survey about the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on marriages, there was a 34 percent increase in divorces in 2020 compared to 2019. The data revealed that the following factors were the most common causes of divorce during the pandemic:

  • COVID-19 quarantine caused marriages to fall apart within weeks. The number of couples who wished to separate during quarantine increased by 57 percent from February 13, 2020, to April 13, 2020. Mental health professionals suggest that this is when couples enter the “disillusionment phase” of the Phases of Disaster, when optimism turns to discouragement, heightened stress, and negativity.
  • Newlyweds were hit the hardest by the pandemic. Researchers found that close to 60 percent of couples pursuing divorce during the pandemic were married for five years or less, which is a 16 percent increase from 2019. This suggests that newlyweds are less equipped to handle the emotional, financial, and familial stresses associated with the pandemic than more mature couples who have been married for a longer period of time. Couples who were only married for five months or less experienced the highest rate of divorce. In 2019, only 11 percent of newly married couples filed for divorce, whereas approximately 20 percent of couples married for five months or less filed for divorce in 2020.
  • Couples in southern states had the highest divorce rates. The states with the highest divorce rates included Mississippi, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama, and Louisiana. The divorce rate in the South was up to three times higher than the rest of the country.
  • The divorce rate increased among couples with young children. Prior to the pandemic, couples who had children under the age of 18 were less likely to file for divorce. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a five percent increase in couples with young children who filed for divorce.
  • There was a significant increase in life insurance policies. In some cases, the spouse who is required to pay spousal support must secure their payments with a life insurance policy to ensure that the support recipient will continue to receive payments in the event of the other spouse’s death. Data indicates that over 50 percent of those paying spousal support in 2020 must carry a life insurance policy, which is a 31 percent increase in the number of users required to have a life insurance policy in 2019.

Morristown Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Clients Navigate Post COVID Divorces

If the stress and challenges associated with COVID-19 pandemic has caused you and your spouse to seek a divorce, do not hesitate to contact our experienced Morristown divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. We will continue to fight for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 908-575-9777 or contact us online. Located in Freehold, Somerville and Morristown, we serve clients throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.