While there are some reports suggesting divorce rates are rising due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are other reports suggesting the reverse is true.
According to a recent article for the Washington Post about a University of Virginia professor who is researching and writing about divorce, the pandemic is helping some spouses appreciate how much they need each other. The professor, Brad Wilcox, responded to a series of questions and misunderstandings about marriage, divorce and the pandemic.
How do you explain the number of stories that claim the pandemic is causing the rate of divorce to rise?
Couples are struggling. The pandemic means loss of jobs, home schooling, many people have died from the disease, malaise from the lockdown, and other traumas. About one In three couples have suffered traumatic stress this year – more than in prior years. The real-time data from several states show that the divorce rate has actually fallen in Arizona, Florida, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Missouri. While some people may want to file for divorce but can’t because of pandemic logistics, there is evidence that the pandemic is helping people stay married.
COVID, Mr. Wilcox says, has helped spouses understand the following ways in which they need each other:
- Helping to care for older parents
- Educating children
- Running errands
- Having multiple incomes
- Listening when we can’t take the pandemic any more
What are some of the leading factors that cause divorces or cause people to stay together in non-pandemic times?
Mr. Wilcox says many marriages already did have difficulties. One man said, “My marriage had preexisting conditions, and COVID killed it.”
Common factors in a divorce include:
- Financial stress and unemployment
- Substance abuse
- Not being there emotionally for the other spouse
- Unhappiness about the fair share of childcare and house care duties
- The “soulmate myth” that a marriage “will make you happy most of the time”
Factors that help contribute to a good marriage include stable employment, generosity, a shared view of marital responsibilities, and a shared religious faith. Other factors include thankfulness, humility, passion, unity and servanthood.
Is part of the reason for the statistical decline in divorces due to people just waiting for the pandemic to be finished before they file for divorce?
They may be true. There will probably be an uptick in 2021 divorces – but then, like the Great Recession, there may be a decrease. As the world becomes less secure, people tend to see marriage as “safe harbor in tumultuous times.” Oddly, in the late 1940s (after WWII was over), divorces spiked because people felt better about the economy and America.
Any other thoughts about the pandemic and divorce?
While divorces seem to be on the decline, marriages are also on the decline too. The bad news is “the marriage rate will fall most for poor and working-class Americans hit hardest by COVID.”
At the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates, we understand the toll the pandemic is taking on spouses, parents, and children. We understand why divorces happen and how best to protect your interests when a divorce is the only way to start over. We’ve been representing families since 1991. We meet clients in our Tennessee locations in Franklin, Columbia, and Brentwood. Please call our office at 615-977-9370 or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment.