Divorce & COVID-19: A Look Back at How COVID-19 Impacted the Divorce Rate in 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic didn't only impact our professional lives - it also changed how many of us navigated personal relationships. Shortly after the outset of the pandemic, reports from China indicated skyrocketing divorce filings. As a result, family law and divorce specialists the world over predicted an increase in the U.S. divorce rate during and after COVID-19.

But were those predictions correct? Recent figures indicate that the divorce rate in the U.S. actually went down. Today, we're taking a more in-depth look at these developments.

At Conner & Roberts, PLLC, our attorneys help clients navigate complex family law disputes, including divorce. To schedule a consultation with our team and work with an attorney you can trust on your case, contact us online or via phone at (423) 299-4489.

What Were the Warning Signs for an Increased Divorce Rate?

Initial reports out of China when COVID-19-related lockdowns there ended first incited suspicions that the divorce rate could increase exponentially in 2020. Reports of lines out the doors of government offices and clerks so busy they couldn't even take water breaks quickly made news in the U.S., with many family law professionals predicting that the U.S. could see a similar phenomenon when COVID-19 stay-at-home orders lifted.

Family law professionals didn't just base their assumptions off of reports from other countries, however.

Firstly, tens of millions of Americans lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic - a slow-down the economy still has yet to recover from. Money problems are often a major source of discontent in relationships, so many divorce experts assumed that increased financial troubles could lead to a higher divorce rate.

Additionally, many spouses were under more stress this year than ever before. People found themselves working at home, cooped up in small living spaces with spouses and children who were also working or attending school. Essential workers found themselves in high-stress situations, many fearing they could contract COVID-19 and bring it home to their families as hospitals struggled to cope with an increased caseload.

In short, Americans across the country experienced new and unexpected circumstances on a global scale - circumstances that could easily have led to the dissolution of marriages.

But what actually happened?

Divorce Rates... Went Down?

According to a recent study by the Institute for Family Studies, the U.S. divorce rate actually trended downward in 2020 - and still continues to do so in 2021. Similarly, the rate of marriages fell.

Optimistic researchers posit that spouses spending more time together and focusing less on wealth may have had a positive impact on many marriages. Similarly, children learning at home - initially reported as a strain on many parents - may have helped children and parents alike bond with each other over this difficult past year.

However, not everyone agrees with those assumptions. Many researchers posit that the divorce rate could still go up by the end of the year, and that spouses are currently holding off from filing thanks to COVID-19-induced financial hardships. Filing for divorce during the summer is seen as risky by many - it reduces the chance of getting a good buyout on the marital home if it goes up for sale in the fall or winter, and divorce can be a costly endeavor. As a result, couples who may have separated but not filed for divorce could choose to do so during the winter or at the start of 2022, once financial situations have settled down a bit more.

At Conner & Roberts, PLLC, our attorneys are here to help you pursue a better outcome in your divorce. To schedule a consultation with our team of experienced lawyers, contact us online or via phone at (423) 299-4489.

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