Divorce and Custody in the Times of Covid-19

The novel coronavirus has put a strain on families from emotional to financially, but no place has the impact been felt more powerfully than in homes and families across the nation.  If too much time together is making you feel like it’s time to end your marriage, you are not alone.  If you have already split up, then Covid may be putting pressure on how you interact with your ex and manage sharing children in the new normal.  This article will discuss some of the trends that may be impacting how you feel and talk about coping strategies for thriving emotionally during this time. 


  • Divorce Rates May Spike in the Wake of Covid


Divorce rates are likely to spike in the wake of Covid.  An article on Bloomberg.com reported that cities in China reported record highs in divorce filings in March when China started to open up.  See https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-31/divorces-spike-in-china-after-coronavirus-quarantines   A study in Washington demonstrated that couples often divorce when they are together for a long period of time. See https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-new-resilience/201609/back-vacation-and-now-more-likely-divorce.  Relationship experts and attorneys have speculated that divorce rates will in the aftermath of couples being forced to interact with each other and engage in different ways. 

How to cope:  If you are considering divorce, one powerful coping mechanism is to get more information.  Talk to a divorce attorney and find out what the financial and familial ramifications would be.  Knowledge is power and will help you handle the Covid stresses on marriage, whether you ultimately decide to stay together or to separate. 



  • Birthrates are Down 


You’d think that with a lot of time at home and not much to do that babies would be the business of the day, but not so, according to a recent article on Bloomberg.com.    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-29/coronavirus-pandemic-americans-aren-t-making-babies-in-crisis  Apparently, the financial stresses with Covid unemployment and economic strains and concerns about the future are forcing many couples to put family plans on hold.  For couples who need help conceiving, many fertility clinics were closed for several months during Covid lockdowns, which created a delay in treatments for infertile couples, and the economic impact may prevent some infertile couples from being able to afford treatments soon.

How to cope:  If Covid is impacting your family planning, you may want to confide in a friend or therapist.  For some, just voicing concerns about what is often a private matter between couples, can help alleviate some of the stress. 


  •  Covid May Impact Custody Arrangements 


Since Covid resulted in changes in work schedules and school schedules, you may be finding yourself at odds with your ex-spouse as these changes disrupt your custody patterns.  

How to cope:  The first step is to evaluate what the current situation is and how it can be better objectively.  Try to look at the situation as if you were a judge evaluating a request from one of the parties to modify the order relating to custody.  For some, you may be able to find a compromise position that will work in the new normal.  For others, the way to cope may be to seek legal counsel to advocate for you to change what was set in place before the world was disrupted.   


Conclusion:  If you are feeling stressed, you are not alone

If you are feeling anxiety or stress from the Covid world, you are not alone.  A study of people in Hong Kong in the wake of the 2002-03 SARS epidemic found that a year after the outbreak, SARS survivors still had elevated stress levels and worrying levels of psychological distress including depression and anxiety.  See https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200601-how-is-covid-19-is-affecting-relationships.  There are a myriad of mechanisms for finding peace in these difficult times:  reach out to a friend, get more connected with nature, find an outlet that you enjoy that can be done while distancing such as journaling, painting, cooking, etc.  If you feel like you need legal advice on divorce or custodial challenges, don’t hesitate to contact David Knecht, an experienced family law attorney who can advise you on your options and help you take action if that is the course that is right for you.