There is no question that during the COVID-19 pandemic many married couples have struggled with job losses, unexpected homeschooling, the death of loved ones, and so many other traumas. While it is still too early to tell what the full effect of Covid-19 will be on marriages in the United States, we can take a look at some of the preliminary data.

Marriage and Divorce Prior to Covid-19

According to the Institute of Family Studies, the American divorce rate in 2019 hit a fifty-year low with only 14.9 marriages out of 1000 marriages ending in divorce. This report was accompanied by Census Data stating that “the median duration of current marriages in the U.S. has increased almost one year in the recent decade, from 19 years in 2010  to 19.8 years in 2019.” You can see the chart from the IFS below.

Covid’s Effect on Interest in Divorce

During the Spring of 2020, we began to experience lockdowns in many localities. The strain of being forced together and the added difficulty of homeschooling pushed many couples to research their options for divorce. One online divorce-form provider stated that they experienced a 34% increase in the purchase of their online divorce-forms in the Spring of 2020 compared to the same time in 2019.

The company found that users from the Southern United States pursued divorce on their site 2-3 times as much as other regions in the United States. The company also found that 58% of users interested in divorce were married less than 5 months.

Purchasing a divorce-form online does not necessarily indicate that the divorce has been filed. It only suggests someone has taken an active step toward a divorce filing. Let’s look at what the early numbers show from divorce filings in 2020.

Preliminary Data From Divorce Filings in States

It is still too early to have all the data on 2020 divorce filings in the United States; however, there are some states that post their reporting in real-time. Virginia sociology professor Brad Wilcox found that “data…from four out of five states reporting divorce in real-time – Arizona, Florida, Missouri, Rhode Island and Oregon – indicate that divorce has fallen.” This chart by the Institue of Family Studies reflects Professor Wilcox’s findings.

On January 6th, NPR’s Morning Marketplace Report featured a Bowling Green State University demographic study on Marriage and Divorce in 2020. The study looked a many of the same states as the report from the Institue of Family Studies and found a sizable drop in divorce. In New Hampshire, the divorce rate fell by as much as 36% in 2020.

As mentioned above, this information is preliminary and does not necessarily mean the pandemic strengthened couples’ relationships and helped stave off divorce. Considerations as to why divorce rates fell in these states could be court closures, less income to pay for a divorce, and reliance on a spouse for housing and lockdown child care.

What 2021 Has in Store for Marriage and Divorce in America.

As Americans begin to get the vaccine and are reintroduced to a state of normalcy, it is likely that 2021 will see an uptick in divorces. Last month, the BBC reported that figures in Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and the Chinese cities of Xi’an and Dazhou suggest a rise in official divorce applications, which is a trend the US will probably follow.  

We plan to see many of the Americans who were prevented from filing divorces last year begin to file this year. On January 4, 2021, our firm received more calls regarding divorce than any day in 2020. This increased call volume could be due to the issuance of stimulus checks and people waiting until after the holidays to pursue their divorces. However, many of the callers are telling us that this year they are ready to move on with their relationships and from the pandemic’s toll on their emotional well-being.

Considering Separation or Divorce?

If you have thought about separation or divorce during the COVID pandemic, you are not alone. The stress of the pandemic, combined with financial challenges and increasingly close confines with your spouse is enough to strain even the healthiest of marriages. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by relationship troubles, here are four simple steps you can take to regain control of your life and choose the best path moving forward:

  • Step One: If you are being abused by your spouse, seek help right away. Call 911 if you are in danger or call a trusted family lawyer for help. Click here for Statewide resources in Louisiana for Victims of Domestic Violence.
  • Step Two: If you love your spouse and would like to salvage your relationship, reach out to an experienced Louisiana family therapist for guidance.
  • Step Three: If your efforts to save your relationship fail, or if you would like to move forward with a divorce, contact an experienced family lawyer.
  • Step Four: Take care of your physical and mental health. Do not delay seeking medical care if you have an emergency or serious health problem.

By following these four steps, you will be able to put your best foot forward and live a happier, healthier life. To discover why residents across Louisiana turn to us for legal guidance, we invite you to contact us at Rotharmel Shanks, LLC to schedule a complimentary consultation. We look forward to serving as your trusted legal representative.

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