How COVID Changed Divorce and Made It Easier
The COVID-19 pandemic forced many couples to stay physically together in quarantine, creating both challenges and opportunities for their relationships. As vaccines became readily available and cases declined, divorces and separations started to rise. This article explores how cohabitating couples faced amplified conflicts during quarantine, leading to a significant increase in divorces and single parenting by the spring of 2022. While COVID-19 cannot be solely blamed for these divorces, it accelerated the decision-making process for many individuals, making it clear that they did not want to spend the next few years in a toxic situation.
The Challenges of Divorce Amid COVID-19
Divorce became more difficult due to several pandemic-related factors:
Courthouse Closures and Delays
During the height of the pandemic, many courthouses had to close for days, weeks, and even months. This led to significant delays in hearing divorce-related cases, affecting couples’ ability to move forward with their lives.
Reduced Workforce and Online Hearings
Though some courts implemented online hearings, a reduced workforce and furloughed employees caused further delays. Additionally, an overwhelming number of motions to change child support, alimony, or parenting orders piled up, hindering the divorce process.
The Silver Lining: Online Divorce
Despite the challenges, COVID-19 also brought about positive changes to the divorce process:
Online Divorce: Possible and Preferable
The pandemic highlighted that online divorce is not only possible but also preferable for couples who can work together outside of court. This approach enabled divorces to be completed in record time, allowing individuals to start their healing process sooner and move on with their lives.
Suspension of Procedural Roadblocks
Temporary changes to existing laws due to social distancing guidelines suspended many procedural roadblocks. This made it easier for couples like Bella M., who lost her job during the pandemic, to proceed with a DIY divorce using online tools.
Online Mediation and Settlement Conferences
Online Mediation as an Alternative
Not all couples can settle their disputes on their own. However, private mediators have stepped up their game during the pandemic, offering online mediation instead of traditional in-person meetings.
Informal Settlement Conferences
Some judges have conducted online and informal settlement conferences to help parties resolve their differences. This innovative approach has proven to be more comfortable for participants, as they can engage in the process from the comfort of their own homes.
The COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly disrupted our lives and caused delays in the divorce process. However, it also brought positive changes, making online divorce accessible and more efficient. Couples who are willing to work together outside of court can finalize their divorce quickly, enabling them to move forward with their lives. While the challenges posed by the pandemic remain, the option of online divorce provides a silver lining for those consciously uncoupling.
1. Can COVID-19 be blamed for the increase in divorces?
COVID-19 cannot be solely blamed for the increase in divorces, but it accelerated the decision-making process for many couples.
2. Did the pandemic lead to more single parenting?
Yes, by the spring of 2022, experts reported a significant increase in divorces and single parenting as a result of the pandemic’s impact on relationships.
3. How did online divorce help individuals during the pandemic?
Online divorce allowed individuals to complete their divorce quickly and efficiently, affording them the opportunity to start the healing process sooner and save money.
- 4. What if my spouse and I can’t agree on everything during the divorce?
Online mediation and informal settlement conferences have provided alternatives for couples who need extra help resolving their disputes.
5. Are there any benefits to divorce amid the pandemic?
The pandemic’s changes to the divorce process, such as online options, have made divorce more accessible and less cumbersome for some couples.