When the pandemic forced married people to start spending a lot more time together, Florida divorce lawyers expected to get more clients. For many couples, pandemic restrictions meant new money problems, kids stuck at home all day, and no place to run from marital difficulties that may have been festering for years.
“Divorce lawyers across the country say they’ve noticed an uptick in calls from people ready to call it quits with their spouses after being quarantined together during lockdown,” according to a report in the Miami Herald. Couples cited general anxiety over the spreading virus, stalled careers, the break with familiar routines, and a sort of cabin fever effect from being unable to travel. In addition, partners who had been in marriage counseling suffered when their sessions were interrupted.
Indeed, as the first waves of closings and stay-at-home orders went into effect, divorce rates jumped more than 30% across the country. Those who did petition for a “Dissolution of Marriage” in the early days of the pandemic, when many courthouses and county offices were closed, did so remotely via Zoom or some other video platform. Still, cases were delayed, and Florida courts got backed up.
But then, contrary to everyone’s expectations, petitions for divorce began to drop as the Covid-19 siege wore on. The divorce rate in Florida dropped nearly 20% last year. Experts theorize that when the first stay-at-home orders came about, the abrupt change in conditions and the enforced togetherness was the final straw for marriages already under a lot of strain, hence the initial spike in divorce rates.
Several factors contributed to the reduction in divorce filings. Some people just toughed it out, made it work, and found that the crisis had strengthened their marriages. Plus, some people discovered advantages to staying at home, like spending more quality time with children. But it seems that, for most people, the reasons to postpone a divorce came down to the uncertainty of the times. There was a general atmosphere of economic instability. A divorce could further strain finances, and many people feared for their jobs.
However, there are signs that with the crisis atmosphere lifting somewhat and a sort of return to business as usual, the divorce rate is heading back up. More than 20% of people in a recent survey said that the pandemic had hurt their marriage. Some areas of the country are experiencing a surge in filings as people seem to feel on firmer footing, and courthouses work to clear backlogs.
If you are considering ending your marriage, it’s important to learn as much as you can about the divorce laws in Florida. Contact the Lake County divorce lawyers at Crawford, Modica & Holt. Call (352) 432-8644 to speak with an experienced divorce attorney.