Written by Jonathan Breeden
As vaccination rates increase, we’re getting back to normal in North Carolina. But in many ways, the impact of COVID-19 is still being felt in America, including marriage and divorce rates.
Many have put off wedding ceremonies until it’s safer for guests to gather and celebrate. And after enduring the strain and pressure of coping with the pandemic, many couples have decided that either marriage isn’t a good idea or should be postponed. Others are leaving the lockdown with the realization that their current marriage should end altogether.
Comprehensive national and North Carolina statistics on divorce during the pandemic aren’t available yet. But the numbers from a few states suggest a sharp decline in divorce filings. The Associated Press reports that compared to 2019, during 2020, divorce filings were down 24% in Oregon and 20% in Florida. There was a smaller decrease in Arizona. This trend is expected to reverse in 2021.
Typically, people wait until the beginning of the year to file for divorce so they don’t disrupt children’s lives during the holidays, especially if they haven’t successfully separated by Halloween.
Americans have been more reluctant to separate given the economic uncertainty, and, unfortunately, one or both spouses may have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Divorce is more likely to leave a wife worse off financially, so the added financial losses may make women especially reluctant to file for divorce during challenging economic times.
Family courts already handled a high divorce caseload during the pandemic. There is a substantial backlog due to spikes in COVID cases and courts being closed for so long. Even people who separated during the Spring and Summer of 2020 have seen a huge delay in their process.
Spending more time together has been a blessing and a curse for many married couples. A couple may grow closer and better appreciate each other. For others, the pandemic may have seemed like an extended house arrest with a person they increasingly dislike.
Before the pandemic, a spouse may have coped with a bad marriage by spending more time working, volunteering, and socializing. Those options may have stopped, making couples face their problems.
Vaccines allow people to return to a new “normal.” There will be more divorce filings because the economy is improving, and the courts are moving back to business as usual.
COVID-19 is an unavoidable reminder that life is unpredictable and maybe a lot shorter than we’d like. Those of us who’ve gotten through the pandemic should have a greater appreciation for life, as imperfect as it is. It’s too short to spend with the wrong spouse.
Attorney Jonathan Breeden helps families through complicated and emotional legal matters in North Carolina, like divorces, with skill and compassion. Jonathan understands how a divorce can disrupt your life and your finances. He’s committed to getting you the best outcome with the least stress and expense possible.