Couples are re-evaluating their relationships as the pandemic eases, causing some relationship experts and family attorneys to say that they expect divorce rates to spike in the second half of 2021. Although divorce rates fell nationwide last year, research suggests that the pandemic may have suppressed the move to split. “By April, the interest in divorce had already increased by 34% in the US, with newer couples being the most likely to file for divorce,” according to a National Law Review report.
Divorce attorneys say couples delayed splitting during the last year for many reasons. “There was a fear factor when they called to inquire,” says Susan Myres, owner of Myres & Associates, a Houston-based divorce and family law firm. Many couples worried about finances and upheavals in their children’s lives. “Now they’re starting to get back to me. People are starting to say, ‘Okay, we are ready to go.’” Her firm saw a one-third increase in new cases during the last two months over the same period in 2020.
Celebrity Splits Influence Views on Divorce
Celebrity divorces that play out in the media are influencing how non-famous folks view their own splits. Family law and divorce attorney Wendy Fountain, a partner at Newport Beach, California-based Sullivan Law & Associates, says it’s no coincidence that clients are investigating divorce as strong, influential women carry on in admirable fashion after parting ways with famous partners.
For example, Melinda Gates is divorcing Microsoft founder Bill Gates and still has a powerful voice in their philanthropic foundation. After divorcing Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, MacKenzie Scott donated $1.7 billion to charities and recently remarried. Jennifer Lopez launched her eponymous beauty line and reunited with former fiancé Ben Affleck following her split from A-Rod. Zoe Kravitz resumed shooting her Catwoman role for the movie Batwoman following her divorce from Karl Glusman.
Fountain says there’s more to it than simply following influencers. “You see people coming out of the pandemic, particularly women, who haven’t necessarily thought out a career path and have come up with some plans for their future,” she says. “Whether they’re going into nursing or – I have a young client who’s going into beauty school – they’re all picking up a path to be more specific and more driven.” The attorney says women have been soul-searching during the pandemic.
Summer Will See More Divorce Filings
Sodoma Law founder and managing principal Nicole Sodoma says she expects the split-up pace to accelerate in the coming months as families establish separate households during the summer. As courts increase their fluency with new technologies, divorce filings and completions will rise, she predicts. Sodoma Law, a family law practice based in Charlotte, North Carolina, saw 87 consultations in April 2021 compared with 50 in April last year. That’s a record number of inquiries for her firm.
A New York-based neuropsychologist told Spectrum News that many of her clients already knew they had issues in their marriage before COVID-19 struck. They said the lockdown only made their problems worse, but they likely already had their relationship point towards incompatibility, infidelity, lack of commitment, or constant conflict.
Need help right away? There’s marriage counseling you can do right from your couch at home. Try Talkspace if you need someone to talk to right away!