The Pandemic Has Made This Life-Changing Decision Much More Common

The stresses of lockdown have made it much harder for couples to survive—and new data proves it.

Let's be honest: the coronavirus pandemic has put a whole new set of stress on everyday life. Whether it's homeschooling your kids, struggling to find a good work-from-home system, or simply feeling overwhelmed by the threat of getting sick, nothing has felt easy. And according to recent statistics, marriages are also feeling the strain: Divorce rates have jumped significantly since the pandemic began in early 2020.

According to data from Legal Templates, a company specializing in legal documents, the number of people looking for divorces in 2020 is up 34 percent from the same period between March and June of 2019. The data also reveals that 31 percent of couples feel that the stresses of the pandemic have done "irreparable damage" to their marriage, the New York Post reports.

Higher rates of divorce happened to coincide with areas of the country that were hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The Southern region of the U.S. showed a divorce rate two to three times the rate of other regions, with Mississippi, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama, and Louisiana posting the highest split rates of all 50 states.

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Additionally, data from analytics company SEMrush indicates that internet searches for divorce and information related to legal advice is up 11 percent this year, the New York Daily News reports. This includes a 14-percent increase in queries for the phrase "I want a divorce" and double the number of searches for "file for divorce online."

The Legal Templates report also points out that the divorce rate peaked on April 13, which was just 15 to 20 days after many states announced lockdown and stay-at-home orders for their residents.

"It's possible that divorces spiked as people entered what mental health and human service professionals refer to as the 'disillusionment phase' of the Phases of Disaster—the time when optimism turns to discouragement, stress heightens, and negative reactions often occur," the researchers wrote.

Signing divorce papers rings on the table

The jump in dissolved marriages may be disappointing news, but it isn't a surprise to many legal experts, who have been forecasting the surge for months.

As access to courts became limited during shutdowns, a bottleneck of divorce cases began to grow. "This is what we are hearing around the country," Susan Myres, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, told ABC News in April. "We are fielding calls right now from people who are tired of being in the same house with each other."

The U.S. is not alone in witnessing a higher rate of married couples splitting. China, which was one of the first countries hit by the coronavirus, also posted a record spike in divorce filings in March, with government offices in some cities overwhelmed by long lines, Bloomberg reported. And for more on which parts of the U.S. are headed for splitsville, check out Here's How Likely You Are to Get Divorced in Every State.

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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