COVID-19 took a substantial toll on many aspects of our lives. Critically, many marriages were affected, and divorce during Covid seemed like a very real possibility for many couples, while others were strengthened. The shutdowns, stay-at-home orders, and restrictions forced couples to face marital issues that previously went ignored or unnoticed.
Although many marriages were tested, divorce during Covid actually decreased by 12% in Oregon. This may be the result of court closures and financial difficulties — but it might also be due to spouses deepening their commitment to each other.
Regardless of the decrease in divorce cases statewide, the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders increased tension for many couples. The impact of the pandemic may even have led to the breaking point in some marriages. For newlyweds, the pandemic might have been the first challenge they faced together. Despite how long a couple was married, they may not have been equipped to deal with the stresses in connection with:
The pandemic might also have intensified issues that couples were facing before the COVID-19 pandemic. Although it may have been easy for couples to ignore the underlying problems in their marriages before the shutdown, being confined at home together for weeks pushed these types of issues to the forefront. Additionally, in some marriages, substance abuse and other unhealthy behaviors were spurred or exacerbated by the pandemic, leading to the decision to divorce.
Disagreements concerning the risks of the virus may have caused irreconcilable differences for some married couples — particularly for those with children. While mask-wearing and social-distancing protocols have been controversial, couples may have had conflicting views on these matters. Parents may also have been at odds regarding the activities they would allow their children to participate in and the risks involved.
Married couples may also have different ideas about the COVID-19 vaccine for themselves or their children. For some spouses, differences in opinion regarding vaccination may have caused a breakdown in the marital relationship.
Some experts speculate that the divorce rate is down due to the financial ramifications associated with ending a marriage. Not only is divorce litigation costly, but maintaining two households is much more expensive than upkeeping one — alimony and child support payments can be significant. Due to the economic impact of COVID-19, some couples may simply be waiting to divorce.
Others say the divorce rates have decreased due to the renewed commitment to marriage that many couples experienced during COVID-19. According to the American Family Survey, 58% of married people reported that the pandemic made them appreciate their partner more. 51% said that the pandemic deepened their commitment to their marriages.
If you and your spouse realized during COVID-19 that you cannot resolve your differences — and you’ve made the decision to divorce — it’s essential to be aware of your options. Importantly, not every divorce case has to be litigated in court. Mediation and collaborative divorce are two ways to divorce with minimal conflict. They can also be more cost-effective and less time-consuming.
In divorce mediation, a trained neutral professional works with the spouses to encourage a healthy dialogue. They also help facilitate respectful communication, allowing the spouses to resolve any issues that need to be decided and negotiate a settlement. Similarly, with the collaborative divorce process, couples discuss their disputes in a private setting. However, a team of professionals is assembled depending on the issues that must be resolved.
Divorce can be one of the most overwhelming and stressful experiences a person has in their lifetime. It’s vital to have an experienced attorney by your side who can advise you of your options and protect your rights. Based in Salem, Litowich Law is committed to providing clients with knowledgeable counsel and high-quality representation for divorce and family law matters throughout Oregon. We welcome you to contact us for a consultation to learn how we can help.