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With COVID-19, divorces are up, but are they happening the same way?

by | Jul 31, 2020 | Collaborative Divorce, COVID-19 Updates, Divorce, Domestic Violence |

Is coronavirus causing more divorce in Texas? Some news came out yesterday that while divorces dipped in April in Texas, the numbers rose in May and June—to push past the number of cases that happened in February. The article looks to connect the lockdown, and perhaps the extended time that couples had to spend together in a crisis, to the increase.

That bears out in a recent Reform Austin article on the topic, which connects the dots this way:

The pandemic that we are in has spurred a lot of self-examination in my clients, but also really looking at their relationships,” said clinical social worker and psychotherapist Christopher Brown.

Marriages are being challenged more than ever due to close proximity and some couples are realizing that they are not a good fit, according to Brown.

However, while couples are making the decision to go their separate ways, many divorcees are held up from moving on by changes in court operations brought on by the pandemic.

The article goes on to point out that restrictions on jury trials and the reliance on online court hearings are impacting how many family law cases can be handled and how they’re handled. Regular readers of this blog know that we covered court via Zoom and how to act in that court back in April when we were all getting used to our new altered reality.

What does this all mean? Indeed, maybe the increase in divorce filings isn’t just a correlation and does have something to do with all that people have to face. For some, sadly, the increased proximity and increased stress have been a toxic combination for spousal abuse, and those cases are typically ones that require litigation to safely, effectively get someone out of a marriage where that abuse persists.

But for other couples, who have determined during the pandemic that they want to get divorced? It’s important to note that the courts aren’t functioning like they were before the pandemic started. It’s a time in which patience needs to be exhibited by anyone involved with a divorce. While divorces are still happening, not everyone has the same ideal timeline for how quickly or slowly a divorce moves, and that creates stress.

It’s also maybe more important than ever that couples considering divorce think about alternative dispute resolution methods to arrive at final decrees. Collaborative divorce and mediation require more communication and negotiation from couples than a litigated divorce, but they also have compelling advantages for couples that can do that. Both methods give couples more say in the outcome, as with litigation, it’s ultimately up to a judge or a jury to decide. It’s also settled outside the public arena of a courtroom, so for people who want to keep their privacy. For couples who don’t want their divorce proceedings to stream on YouTube, which is how some courts are handling open-to-the-public requirements during this time, that could be a big plus.

This is a stressful time that we still believe we’ll all get through. While divorce is a challenging thing to get through in normal times, it can also be a helpful, liberating, necessary step in a person’s journey. We’re here to help people with making that step. Even though the way divorces are currently happening is a little different than usual, know that they are happening, they are possible, and we’re here with the fierce, compassionate approach that will help you through it.