In China, the divorce rate skyrocketed when COVID-19-related quarantines across the country lifted. Now, many divorce lawyers hypothesize that the same could happen in the US.
Understanding how (and why) COVID-19 affected the divorce rate in China can help married couples prepare for quarantine, and help individuals considering a divorce understand what things might look like once quarantine ends.
The Divorce Rate in China Post-COVID
Writing "the divorce rate increased in China after coronavirus-related quarantines lifted" would probably be something of an understatement. Xian and Dazhou, cities in Sichuan province, reported record-high numbers of divorce filings. Clerks didn't have time to drink water because so many couples lined up to file for divorce. Shangai divorce lawyer Steve Li said his caseload increased 25% after the city's lockdown lifted.
For divorce attorneys in the US, the skyrocketing divorce rate in China left one question unanswered:
Will We See a Similar Escalation in Divorce in the US?
It's too soon to tell, but there are a few factors that indicate the divorce rate might also rise in the US post-lockdown:
- Many couples depend on time apart to survive. For most couples, spending time apart at work or being able to go out with friends and get some time alone is a vital part of what makes the relationship healthy. Couples locked up together for months on end might find that they've grown apart over time and would simply be happier alone.
- There's already precedent for an increased divorce rate after couples are forced to spend time together. Divorce lawyers are busiest in January and August/September—right after the winter and summer holiday seasons end. For many couples, quarantine might result in tension similar to that which occurs during other stressful times of the year.
- Economic and familial instability is increasing. Over 40 million people are unemployed. Since money issues are regularly listed as one of the biggest instigators of divorce, economic uncertainty could spike the divorce rate. Additionally, many parents are now forced to work from home and simultaneously look after children whose schools have shut down. The stress of all these events occurring simultaneously could be enough to push many couples over the edge towards divorce.
Ultimately, only time will tell whether the divorce rate will truly spike post-COVID-19. However, there is a strong precedent to indicate that might very well be the case.
At The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller, we can help you navigate your divorce with confidence.