An increase in court openings are signaling an increase in divorce filings. Around the country divorce and family law courts are starting to re-open, and there has been a noticeable increase in the number of people filing for divorce and custody too. So it’s not just you, if that was what you are thinking. As we appear to be near the end of the pandemic shutdown, many couples are separating and seeking divorce.
Court Attire Post-Quarantine
Covid Divorce Court
According to figures from the Superior Court of California published in the New York Times, divorce filings are up significantly in Los Angeles over the last five months. And some lawyers and relationship experts say that divorce filings in New York and other states are also on the rise.
Of course, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to know whether the higher rates are because more people want to get divorced or because many courtrooms were closed during the pandemic, creating a backlog. Though New York keeps its divorce records sealed, attorneys have seen enough anecdotal evidence to know that divorces seem to be on the rise almost everywhere.
During the pandemic, many people were experiencing marital problems and putting off splitting up for practical reasons.
In some cases, couples were waiting for the vaccines to be approved and to gain more social and economic stability before leaving their marriages.
The same is probably true for Florida, where many divorce attorneys are anecdotally reporting evidence of new filings and new clients seeking consultations to discuss filing for divorce and custody.
Divorce rates have also increased because it is easier to get a divorce. Historically in Florida, in order to obtain a divorce one had to prove the existence of legal grounds such as adultery. This required additional expenses, making divorces more expensive and cumbersome than before.
I’ve written about fluctuating divorce rates before. Part of the problem with keeping track of divorce court filings in the U.S. is that, unlike in other countries, collecting divorce statistics in the United States is not consistent in all of the states.
Different states keep different statistics and within each state, individual counties within those states keep excellent records of finalized divorce in some cases but not in other counties. These varying statistics are an important source for measuring divorce rates, and they are not consistent.
Miami-Dade County, for instance, has excellent records of filing online. However, other counties in Florida and outside of Florida may not.
Additionally, different American states and the federal Census Bureau, have had a rocky history of collecting the data from across the country on divorce rates. One of the reasons for the discrepancy in keep statistics is because the federal government stopped providing financial support to the states for detailed state collection of data.
Divorce Cases Spreading
Two months ago, 2,704 married people responded to one recent survey regarding the effect on marriages from the reopenings after lockdowns. Among the survey’s questions was: “Since the reopening following the lockdowns of 2020/2021 and a significant return to normal from the changes of the Covid-19 pandemic, has your marriage relationship been impacted?”
21% of respondents answered that the pandemic had harmed their marriage, a 10% increase from a survey asking the same question the year before.
The rising number of divorces could reflect marital problems that had been hidden from view for much of the last year and half. Now that many people have been vaccinated, things are starting to normalize. That return to normalcy, or at least semi-normalcy, could mean that couples are finally completing divorces they were forced to delay.
Extramarital affairs, often times a trigger for filing for divorce, may be rising too. During the pandemic hotels and bars were shut down and there were few people traveling for business, so there was no place to go to have an affair.
Now that things are opening up again, it is to be expected that couples are getting divorced because they either caught a spouse having an affair, or they are having one themselves.
There’s a lot of angst out there, which is why many divorced people are now approaching new relationships by holding potential partners to a higher level of maturity and authenticity, and that starting from the dating level, will never again ‘settle’ for just anyone.”
The New York Times article is here.