The holidays are supposed to be a time for family togetherness, but this year has been different thanks to one thing — COVID-19. The deadly virus has gotten millions of people sick. In the United States alone, more than 13 million people have been infected, while more than 263,000 people have died.
COVID-19 has changed the holidays in 2020 in a couple ways. With the virus getting worse again, many people have changed their holiday plans, opting to stay at home rather than risk getting sick in airports. The virus has also caused many couples to split, causing a spike in divorce rates.
In the past, couples managed to get through the holidays and start any divorce proceedings after the first of the year. That has not been the case this year. The holidays are usually quiet for divorce lawyers, but this year, they are incredibly busy.
The pandemic has led to increased bitterness and anger. Couples are sick and tired of each other. Many have been cooped up at home together for most of the year, as companies lay off workers or require 100% remote work. This has caused married couples to spend way too much time together, with no time to themselves. On top of that, there have been financial issues to contend with. Unemployment benefits have been delayed and there has been little financial help from the government. The lack of money has been causing an additional strain on many marriages.
Legal Templates, which offers an online database of legal documents, has seen a 34% increase in divorce paperwork sales year over year. In addition, search engine inquiries for “filing for divorce” increased 22%, while “file for divorce online” increased nearly 96%.
Divorce lawyers are seeing a significant increase in divorce cases, too, which is unusual for this time of year. Usually, there is a lull as people get ready for the holidays. But lawyers have been extremely busy, like it was any other normal time. During Thanksgiving week, many have been busy with motions to file and virtual court appearances to attend.
That is because of logistics. The courts are opening back up again, but with COVID-19 surging all over the country, the courts could postpone divorces and other non-essential cases at any time. Plus, people seem to be more emotional this year. In the past, couples waited until after the holidays because they did not want to ruin things for the kids and other family members. This year, though, people do not seem to care. Many are fed up, with the tension too high. They have tried for a long time to make their marriages work and the pandemic was the final straw. Many couples just want to divorce as quickly as possible and get it over with. With so many people in the same frame of mind, the process could take even longer than usual.
Pandemic stress and anger have been off the charts for many couples. With kids attending school online and parents working from home, everyone is at home all the time. Having to spend 24/7 with each other is driving families up the wall. Making matters worse is the fact that some spouses have differing views of how to deal with the pandemic. Some may be overly cautious, while others refuse to wear masks because they think the coronavirus is a conspiracy. When a couple is not on the same page in this regard, it can create a lot of tension, especially when one person refuses to social distance, potentially putting a household at risk for contracting the virus.
On top of that, child custody battles are heating up. In some divorce cases, a parent is taking the children and moving them to another city or another state altogether to protect them from the coronavirus. This causes problems for the other parent who wants to see their children. Unfortunately, these cases are contentious and often very complicated to resolve.
The pandemic has also led to an increase in false claims. Because divorce cases are not considered essential, they are not being processed very quickly. To speed things up, some people are filing false claims of domestic violence. They are trying to get restraining orders so they can get temporary custody of children. This is not only unethical, but also illegal.
So, will things quiet down soon for family law attorneys? Most likely not. Lawyers are expecting the trend to continue well into 2021. The pandemic quieted down during the summer but is picking back up. In many places, businesses are being forced to shut down again. Curfews are in place. This makes it difficult for people to get out of the house. Everything is so restrictive that when a couple is at home all the time, it just makes their problems worse. The pandemic has not been helpful for marriages that are hanging by a thread.
Seek Legal Help
Many marriages have not survived the pandemic. While the pandemic has strengthened some marriages, marriages that were already in trouble are feeling the pain. The coronavirus crisis is still going on months later and it has led to many issues among couples, resulting in divorce.
No matter the reason for your divorce, Broward County divorce attorney Scott J. Stadler can guide you through the process. Get help from a knowledgeable lawyer who has more than 30 years of experience. Schedule a consultation today by calling (954) 346-6464 or filling out the online form.