There is anecdotal evidence that more Americans are seeking out the services of divorce attorneys during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s really a make-it or break-it situation,” Jacqueline Newman, a New York City-based divorce attorney told FOX Business. “A lot of complaints I get [from couples] are they don’t bond, they don’t connect, they’re always busy and the people that want to make it work are getting a rare opportunity to do so. For every marriage that was on the brink, this is what’s going to push people over.”
“I have clients that haven’t been ready, and they’ve been calling me now saying, ‘get me out of here,’” Newman said. “At this moment, there’s not much you can do.”
There aren’t concrete numbers yet, but many divorce attorneys are reporting an increased number of inquiries.
In China, where the coronavirus pandemic originated, there was a surge in divorce filings in March after some of their quarantine restrictions were lifted. It seems likely that the U.S. might experience a similar spike in post-coronavirus divorces.
Mary-Kate Olsen, one half of the actress duo the Olsen twins, is one of the latest celebrities to file for divorce. Her current situation demonstrates the stress that many couples are under as they attempt to file for divorce.
Married to Pierre Olivier Sarkozy since 2015, Olsen had to file an emergency order to protect her property after her husband terminated their apartment lease in New York City without telling her. She was told, through his attorneys, that she had until May 18 to remove all of her property from their home, which she argues is exceptionally difficult given the city’s COVID lockdown and asked for an extension until May 30. Olsen originally tried to file for divorce on April 17, but due to the courts being closed she couldn’t. As a result, she’s having to jump through more legal hurdles in order to ensure that her property is not removed or damaged.
While Mary-Kate, who has left her acting career behind to become a successful clothing designer with her sister, has an immense amount of wealth to fall back on, her experience in divorce is probably similar to what numerous Americans across the country are going through.
Since many of the family courts are closed due to the pandemic, some couples are forced to go through extreme measures in order to initiate the divorce process or just wait until the whole thing blows over, likely living in a toxic situation. While hopefully this additional time gives some people an opportunity to reconcile, for others the situation might be quite dangerous.
Domestic violence is a real problem for some women and children, who find it more difficult to escape a violent partner. (The National Domestic Violence Hotline offers 24/7 assistance. Call 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522.)
As Boston Magazine reported, “Strong couples will grow stronger and closer through the crisis, and weak couples with preexisting issues will, in all likelihood, grow weaker and further apart.”
For those couples that are struggling in their relationship during the COVID pandemic, there is hope. Focus on the Family’s program Hope Restored works to help marriages survive and thrive. For a free consultation, contact 866-875-2915.
For more resources, check out this webpage.