Conventional wisdom has long suggested that financial problems cause a strain on marriages and could ultimately lead to divorce. While some have been able to consolidate the concept in this thought, others have suggested that this wisdom might have been wrong all along. Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19), visited and started plaguing the world of mankind since late 2019.
The global pandemic has claimed an enormous number of lives, and the number of reported cases keep increasing on an hourly basis. Sadly, months after its departure, we may still live with the negative impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.
Unemployment/job losses, recession/economic downturn, increasing crime rate, and divorce, are only a few of the other impacts of COVID-19. The most surprising of these may be its significant impact on divorce rates.
On April 26th, 2020, white house economy advisor Kevin Hassett said the unemployment rate could hit 16%, and the next couple of months is going to be terrible for economic data. “You’re going to see numbers as bad as we’ve ever seen,” Hassett said. Let’s not forget to mention that this virus has also forced us into an unwanted rest and home lockdown.
But how does this pandemic influence a surge in divorce rates or otherwise? You will be surprised at what we’ve found out.
Financial Instability And Economic Crisis
The financial strain resulting from policies taken by the government to curb the spread of the virus has significantly affected a change in divorce rates.
Although these measures are necessary at this time with human lives in view, they also bring with them a variety of consequences whether we are ready for them or not. Looking at what happened in the past during the great depression of 1929 to 1933, the divorce rate fell initially, and marriage rates fell by 20 percent as well. There was a 25 percent decline in divorce during this period. Then it rose through the ’30s. By the ’40s, it was apparent that the Great Depression didn’t prevent divorce but postponed it.
As it is often said that history repeats itself, should we also be expecting such proceedings to ensue immediately post COVID-19?
This decline in divorce rate is not because couples enjoy themselves more during this period. Filling for divorce during this stringent economic period could be difficult – as legal fees, the cost of living separately and divorce settlements could be outright unaffordable. The average cost of a divorce settlement in the U.S. is about $15,000 while family law attorneys request a retainer between $2000 to $5000.
So, when couples are making critical decisions during this period, maybe remaining unhappily married is just another financially motivated choice. In addition, courts are currently closed, and they’ll have to wait until courts reopen to ensure divorce proceedings.
It’s possible that stress caused by job loss and other economic woes could raise the potential of filing for a divorce. But not immediately! The primary concern of couples and the public has shifted from inter-personal relationships to survival.
Couples have a common enemy, which is COVID-19, and the bad economy that comes with it. So even if things are not going as expected, couples will rather stay together and fight the common enemy. Afterward, they can go back to fighting themselves and seeking a divorce.
Couples find themselves spending more time with each other than ever before, living in close quarters. Lives have been upturned, and routines obliterated. Most couples are not used to being around each other 24/7, and most are not accustomed to sudden and dramatic changes in roles — as breadwinners, as parents, as teachers. It is overwhelming for many.
Though this lockdown has allowed some couples the opportunity to live, laugh, bond, and also try fun TikTok dance challenges, many couples are exhausted and have already decided to file for a divorce as quickly as possible.
At the early stage of the lockdown, many couples were at least happy to have that enormous time to spend with their spouse. But a few months into the Covid-19 quarantine, the story changed. Instead of fostering love in the family, many couples have witnessed increased domestic violence.
Before the outbreak of the Coronavirus, couples had little time together. Most of the hours in a day were spent at their workplaces, and stress from work would not even allow them to enjoy the little time they had with their spouse. Now that couples have all the time in the world, they have also come to constantly see the flaws of their partners.
During these disagreements, it usually feels impossible for two different opinions to exist together and partners confront each other claiming that they are ‘right’ and the other is ‘wrong’. In those moments, their exchanges turn into a war-like experience and the only thing that is on their mind is ‘winning’. However, as a result of the row, they both feel defeated, misunderstood, hurt, and, unhappy. It may be overwhelming, and as such, they are only waiting to file for a divorce!
In China, for instance, they have reported an increase of divorce filings in the wake of their quarantine orders, put in place as a result of COVID-19. This begs the question of whether the U.S. could see a similar increase too.
Cities have eased their virus-control policies in early March, and registry offices across the country were flooded by an unprecedented number of divorce appointments. The northwestern city of Xi’an experiences a surge in divorces. At the same time, a district in the southwestern city of Dazhou also experienced a sudden increase in divorce applications between February 24th and March 11th. Couples are having to book a one-month reservation. While it is true that this period might experience a decline in the divorce rate, it’s more like a force gathering strength in disguise to hit harder.
Therefore, we conclude that yes, COVID-19 has put a strain on relationships. But, divorce filings are not being addressed immediately; they are not legal yet, at least not during the time frame of this pandemic. However, that may only be a case of postponing the inevitable.