The COVID Divorce: How Relationships Have Changed During the Pandemic

5 min. readbyVexxit StaffonOctober 23, 2020
A lack of absence has made many hearts less fond. Here's how marriages have broken down during the pandemic.

Lysol wipes, toilet paper, mason jars, sourdough starter. These are just a few of the items that have faced supply challenges since the coronavirus took off in Canada earlier this year. One of the more recent additions to the list is divorce lawyers.

“Month over month, demand for family lawyers is continuing to climb,” said Julie Rempel, VP of Marketing and Partnerships at Vexxit. “It’s sad to know that so many people are struggling with relationship breakdowns at a time when we’re already facing enormous health, safety and financial stresses. However, those factors are often what will lead a relationship to the tipping point.”

Psychology Today has found that “if a couple already struggled with communication and support, or had other serious (acknowledged or unacknowledged) problems, the added stress brought about by the pandemic likely accentuated these pre-existing issues. Or at least, these couples may have struggled to engage in the necessary partner support that would help their relationship during this difficult time.”

Back in April, family lawyer Stuart Zukerman foretold the rise in divorce rates on CTV Morning Live. “It is being predicted by many psychologists, counsellors and divorce lawyers that divorces will increase following this quarantine."

The experts were right and divorce is indeed on the rise – not just in Canada, but around the world. “Divorce filings are skyrocketing from quarantine-weary and financially stressed couples, according to top matrimonial attorneys,” reports Emily Smith for Page Six in New York. She writes that divorce lawyers in Manhattan are experiencing a 50% rise in inquiries, while Psychology Today cites a DC law firm that has seen a 70% increase in October alone. Meanwhile “In Xi’an, China, requests for divorce from couples coming out of months-plus-long quarantines cannot be processed fast enough,” writes Smith.

In some cases, the motivation for a split might be mercenary. Smith further reports, “Dramatic sways in the financial markets will further spur a wave of wealthy divorces, because richer spouses may decide they want out while their net worth dips — potentially helping them avoid larger settlements, legal experts say.”

As Canadians hunker down into winter, with continued border closures, reduced gatherings, family holidays and the looming threat of more lockdowns, the pressures on families are not expected to lighten up. Psychology Today recommends “enhanced communication” efforts, to reduce hostility and increase positivity. “Constructive conversations involve recognizing each partner's effort and stress.”

Meanwhile, if the idea of conscious uncoupling has floated to the top of your to-do-list, it might be time to gather advice on your legal rights, couples therapy, or arbitration zoom sessions. Many couples find that just the process of having honest discussions about their current reality and where they are headed provides the motivation they need to make changes for a happier future.

For better or for worse, it is certain that few relationships will emerge from the pandemic unchanged.

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