Are the Lockdowns Taking a Toll on U.S. Marriages?

brianoconnell

Relationships, marital and otherwise, are fraying in the era of COVID-19, with serious financial implications to all parties involved, according to LegalTemplates.com.

“Many couples are spending 24/7 together and confronting major COVID-19 related stressors that are spilling over into their marriages, such as quarantine conditions, unemployment, financial strain, death of loved ones, illness, homeschooling children, mental illnesses, and more,” the legal services platform reports. “With growing tensions between couples, we’ve seen a 34% increase in sales of our divorce agreement compared to the same period in 2019.”

The study doesn’t cover a wide swath of American couples, but the study does offer some surprising insights into why COVID-19 has been such a “homewrecker.

This from the report:

--- The COVID-19 quarantine ended many marriages within a matter of three weeks.

--- Newly married couples (five years or less) were more likely “by a significant margin” to see their marriages end.

--- Married spouses in the Southern U.S. “were far more likely to seek a divorce.”

--- The rate of divorces involved with children “increased compared to 2019.”

--- The number of life insurance policies required in divorce settlements “soared” in 2019.

According to LegalTemplates.com, interest in separation during quarantine “peaked on April 13 — a 57% increase compared to Feb 13, 2020. That’s about three weeks into most statewide quarantine lockdowns.

“It’s possible that divorces spiked as people entered what mental health and human service professionals refer to as the “disillusionment phase” of the lockdowns - the time when optimism turns to discouragement, stress heightens, and negative reactions often occur,” the report states.

The study notes that 58% of users pursuing a divorce during the COVID-19 pandemic were married within the last five years – that’s a 16% uptick from last year. “This indicates that recently married couples were less equipped to deal with the stressors of the COVID-19 virus than mature couples,” the study said.

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Newly-minted married couples fared the worst, however. With married couples together for five months or less most likely to call it quits.

“In 2019, only 11% of users were married for five months or less before purchasing a divorce agreement.” The report notes. “During the same time period in 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 quarantine, that number nearly doubled to 20%, meaning that a significant number of couples got married between January and March and pursued a divorce in the quarantine period between April and June.”

The reason that some states were hit hardest, like Mississippi and Alabama, were economic in nature. Approximately 50% of the workforce is employed in “high-risk of layoff occupations,” the data notes.

The divorce issue during the pandemic certainly needs deeper study. But the early returns show that, unsurprisingly, the pandemic-driven lockdowns have not been kind to many marriages across the U.S.