The summer of 2019 was a good one. Things were looking up for most of us. The economy was humming along, unemployment was low, and most of us were able to live our lives with manageable levels of stress. Then COVID hit. That is when everything changed. As we emerge, we are discovering COVID’s affects are not just physical.
Millions of people around the world have been infected by the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Far too many have died. And of course, COVID shutdowns have devastated world economics. There are entire industries still on the brink of total failure. But even that is not the half of it. The pandemic has even impacted our personal relationships.
Numerous studies cited by Forbes contributor Katie Lynch paint a grim picture. According to the studies, the number of couples looking for information about divorce is up around the world. One study from an American legal services company noted a 34% increase. Meanwhile, a UK law firm specializing in divorce recently reported an increase of 122%
A Perfect Storm of Pressures
The interesting thing about divorce is that it rarely occurs overnight. Couples are not blissfully happy one day and ready to split the next. Rather, unresolved issues compound year after year until something happens that one or both parties consider the final straw. What we are seeing with COVID is that it offered a perfect storm of pressures that led many couples to that last straw.
COVID-related stresses are many and far-reaching. They include:
- Fear of Illness – People worry about contracting coronavirus and developing COVID. They worry for themselves, their children, and their extended family members.
- Loss of Income – Coronavirus shutdowns have put many people on the unemployment line. Some who managed to stay employed have still experienced loss of income.
- Childcare Issues – A lot of parents, even while dealing with their own work situation, have also had to address childcare issues resulting from schools being closed.
Take these three pressures and combine them with the reality of spending so much time at home and you have a powder keg just begging for a fuse and match. It is no wonder that so many couples are finding their relationships strained as we emerge from the pandemic.
Seeking the Right Advice
So what do couples do if they discover COVID is affecting their relationships? The same thing they would do if they were ill: seek the right advice. A person suffering from COVID symptoms would seek the advice of a doctor. Therefore, couples whose relationships are suffering due to the pandemic should seek the advice of a trained counselor. And if a relationship is irretrievably broken, legal advice may be appropriate.
ABM Family Law, a Chicago law firm with a staff of experienced divorce attorneys, says that divorce is only one solution to marriage problems. It may or may not be the best solution. Couples should talk things out with licensed professionals before deciding how to move forward.
Couples should also be aware that divorce creates as many problems as it solves. ABM’s family law attorneys cite custody issues, maintenance payments, child support, and division of jointly owned property as examples. But even after all of the court proceedings are concluded and the papers are signed, divorced couples with shared children still have to figure out how to relate to one another.
Unfortunately, COVID pressures have negatively impacted a lot of marriages. Few will be able to say that COVID pressures were the only reason for divorcing; many will be able to cite such pressures as a contributing factor.