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Will the Coronavirus Result in More Divorces?

Divorce in Alabama - Dothan Divorce Law Firm

The coronavirus outbreak is not only having devastating medical and economic consequences for humanity, but even a social and family level, the pandemic is creating unique challenges. Some sociologists and other experts are of the view that the continuing situation of staying indoors, working from home, and keeping distance from friends, neighbors, and extended family will also take its toll on marital relationships.

While there is no concrete data until now to show that there is a spike in divorce filings after the Covid-19 crisis, it is possible that strains between some married couples may be growing. Divorce matters are currently not a priority for the courts in most parts of the country, including Alabama. Most of the family court work is suspended right now, except emergency hearings for issues involving domestic violence or child abuse.  

Therefore, the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis on marriages will only be known after some time. However, available data (including a detailed NYT report) does indicate that there is rise in cases of domestic abuse. Some couples may find it hard to cope with the emotional and economic stress caused by the pandemic, and it may end up hurting marital relationships.

Multiple Social and Psychological Dimensions

According to Professor Pepper Schwartz, who teaches psychology at the University of Washington, scary and stressful times hold the potential to drive people apart or bring them together. On the one hand, if a husband and wife are already in a strained relationship, their realization may increase during this difficult phase that their spouse is not providing them the support they expected, and they are in the wrong relationship.

On the other hand, a couple who shared a close and romantic relationship prior to the crisis may find a new appreciation for their spouse and recognize the value of being together when the future seems uncertain and scary. Schwartz said that dramatic times often lead to heightened emotions and outcomes, one way or the other.

Some other researchers have also predicted that one of the sociological fallouts of the current crisis is going to be increased divorce rates. Dr. Lucy Atcheson, a psychologist based in London, says that lockdowns and shelter-in-place could amplify conflict and friction for some couples, even though some others might discover a new togetherness.

Dr. Atcheson, who is currently providing remote counseling to couples, says that being confined to the home tends to lead to situations where a couple may put all their issues into a frying pan and intensify the heat. While some will realize that life is too short to have conflicts, couples who are already in a difficult relationship, may decide to divorce as soon as possible for exactly the same reason – when life is too short, why extinguish by suffering in a bad relationship. 

Domestic Abuse is on the Rise

Available data increasingly suggests that domestic violence and abuse is spreading like an opportunistic contagion in the conditions created by coronavirus. According to Bristol University sociologist Marianne Hester, the writing was already on the wall that the kind of social restrictions that have been imposed to fight the virus will lead to these results.

Hester, who studies abusive relationships, said that the incidence of domestic violence always goes up when families spend an excessive amount of time together. Now with families tied down to home because of the Covid-19 pandemic, hotlines are flashing with reports of domestic abuse. The United Nations has officially called upon the authorities to take urgent steps to fight a global surge in domestic abuse and violence. The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterras tweeted: “I urge all governments to put women’s safety first as they respond to the pandemic.”

How to Divorce-Proof Your Marriage during Covid-19

With the Covid-19 crisis, life has changed for everyone at least for the moment from a “thriving” to a “surviving” experience. This requires time to adapt and adjust, and couples must recognize that this is time for showing patience and empathy. Be as understanding of your spouse as possible and give him or her the time they need to realign to the new situation.

Create new structures within the family and establish new routines that allow the husband and wife as well as grown-up children to satisfy their unique needs in terms of personal space, personal choices, and personal activities. If you are working from home, create a separate space to make sure that your constant chatter of conference calls is not driving your spouse insane.

Divide the responsibilities for household work, preparing the meals, and watching the kids. Set timings for different chores and plan out who will take care of what responsibilities and when. Finally, be honest about your “alone time” to your spouse. With no more office time, sports time, bar time, or gym time, everyone needs some “me time” to de-stress themselves at home.

Compassionate Divorce and Family Law Representation for You in Alabama

At Smith & McGhee, PC, we have the knowledge and experience to provide you the with effective legal representation for your divorce or family law matter in Alabama. Our dedicated divorce attorneys will help you achieve the best possible resolution for your issues. To schedule your initial consultation, call us at 334-702-1744 today.