During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, couples are forced to quarantine together. Emotions and stress are already high for individuals during a pandemic — add marital issues and arguments to the equation, and COVID-19 may become a recipe for a rise in divorce rates. Although public health measures that call for quarantining are necessary during this uncertain time, these measures may exacerbate an unhealthy or unhappy relationship.
Uptick in Divorce Both Nationally and in North Carolina
Are you considering getting a divorce during COVID-19? You are not alone. In fact, this uptick in divorce may be happening across the nation.
In New York, the state hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, lawyers have been dealing with an influx of calls to discuss divorce inquires. Once courts re-open, a wave of divorce filings is expected. Since urban areas around the country are being hit especially hard by the pandemic, these areas may see the greatest spikes in divorce rates. After natural disasters, divorce rates have been known to increase, and the same may be true in the wake of COVID-19.
Along with the rest of the nation, a surge in divorce filings may occur in North Carolina during COVID-19. Spouses who are already dealing with a difficult marriage are face to face with those challenges while under quarantine. The issues within already-strained marriages are becoming more pronounced because the quarantine is forcing couples to be together 24/7. Some spouses who were hesitating to move ahead with their divorce are taking action.
Reasons Couples Are Seeking Divorce During COVID-19
Unsurprisingly, the reasons why many couples are seeking divorce during COVID-19 are typical marital issues cited in divorce cases. The following are some of the reasons couples may be seeking divorce during COVID-19:
1. Money Troubles
Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, millions of Americans have filed for unemployment. If one or both spouses lose their jobs, the financial strain can be significant. Further, couples may be at odds in deciding how to spend money. One spouse may want to spend money only on necessities, while the other spouse may take a more lax approach to spending, doing a lot of online shopping or habitually ordering takeout.
Money is already one of the leading causes of divorce. Whether the conflict is caused by money mismanagement or selfishness, the stress caused by financial troubles can spell the end of a marriage.
2. Too Much Screen Time
Growing apart is one of the top reasons couples cite for seeking a divorce. During COVID-19, couples are growing apart even as they live under the same roof. Too much screen time can lead to couples feeling distant and not communicating effectively.
3. Unequal Split of Housework and Child Care
Although an unequal split of housework and child care may have already existed in a marriage prior to COVID-19, the pandemic can further emphasize these inequalities in unpaid work. One spouse may also find that the bulk of the housework or child care has fallen to them as their children are forced to stay home due to closed schools and daycares.
In a marriage where both partners work full-time, the choice will now need to be made about who will take care of the children during the pandemic. If both spouses are able to work from home, to whom does the responsibility fall? Unfortunately, in many marriages, one partner will end up taking on the majority of this unpaid work, which could result in strain on the marriage.
4. Previous Issues Uncovered
Many couples were already struggling with an unhappy or unhealthy marriage and considering divorce prior to COVID-19, and sheltering in place with their spouse has exacerbated the issues that already existed in the relationship. Arguments over basic annoyances, such as cleanliness and how to deal with children, have led spouses to reach out to divorce lawyers.
On the other hand, couples who have been forced apart due to shelter-in-place orders have also noticed fissures in their marriages. Some have realized after weeks or even months of separation that they’re more at peace without their spouse. Or, the separation may leave a spouse feeling anxious and insecure, wondering about their spouse’s safety and fidelity, creating conflict in the marriage.
Responding to Domestic Violence While on Lockdown
Other couples are seeking separation and divorce due to domestic violence. While some people in abusive marriages were able to escape before shelter-in-place orders forced them to quarantine with their abusive spouse, others have not been so lucky. Quarantining has been the final straw for some spouses in violent marriages.
Home may be the most dangerous place for victims of domestic abuse who are now being forced to shelter in place with an abusive partner. Those who are suffering abuse at the hands of their abusers now have nowhere to go. Examples of abuse during the pandemic include:
- Sharing misinformation about COVID-19 to scare others.
- Hiding essential supplies like sanitizer, hand soap and disinfectant products.
- Stopping survivors of abuse from receiving medical attention.
- Preventing household members from going outdoors.
COVID-19 has brought to light the need for more resources and greater vigilance when it comes to addressing domestic violence.
How to Start Divorce Proceedings During COVID-19
Although it may be possible to start divorce proceedings during COVID-19, court dates may be affected by closings. However, court systems are trying to do what they can to resolve matters via telephone and video hearings.
Speaking confidentially with a lawyer may also be a challenge during the COVID-19 lockdown. If the weather allows and you have enough space, you may be able to take a walk or step outside to speak with your lawyer. Many discussions and inquires are also being handled via email in light of this issue.
Continue following orders set federally and by your state, work with your spouse to put the needs of your children first and try to be mindful of what does and doesn’t constitute a real problem.
Things to Consider When Divorcing During COVID-19
Are you thinking about divorcing during COVID-19? If so, you may want to consider the following:
- What the physical, financial and emotional practicalities may be if you separate now.
- Whether you and your spouse should explore couples counseling or therapy before deciding to divorce.
- Whether you can divide up your space, so each of you can have some alone time.
- Whether you have given yourself enough time to think through your decision, so you won’t be rushing into a situation you may regret when the pandemic ends.
Contact Lauren Taylor Law for Legal Assistance
At Lauren Taylor Law, we provide legal advice for families during COVID-19. Our clients have gained freedom from divorce. We are family law and divorce experts serving Charleston SC, and Greenville SC. and we can help you with your divorce during COVID-19. For more information about how to proceed with a divorce or other Family Law matter during the COVID-19 outbreak, please contact Lauren Taylor Law for a free initial consultation.
South Carolina divorce attorney Lauren Taylor is an authority on family law in Charleston and Greenville. Lauren Taylor Law is an authority on divorce, child support, and alimony in South Carolina. She graduated from the Charlotte School of Law, and has been practicing for several years now. Lauren Taylor relies on her experience and passion to fight for you during this stressful time. Learn more about her experience here.