Are divorce rates rising again? This is not necessarily an easy question to answer. For example, two articles posted by the New York Times proposed opposite viewpoints on the matter just a few short months apart.
“Divorce Rates Are Now Dropping. Here Are Some Reasons Why” was published on March 24, 2021. On September 9, 2021, the article “As Courts Reopen, Divorce Filings Are on the Rise” appeared in the same online newspaper.
Which article is right? Do they both contain elements of truth?
That’s what we will look at in this article, but we’ll start with exploring why people file for divorce.
Common Reasons Couples End Their Marriages
Everyone’s marriage experience is somewhat different. After all, you are bringing two of everything to an intimate relationship –personalities, families, temperaments, and belief systems. Disagreements are not uncommon. But what are some of the key issues that tip a couple from happily married, to disgruntled, to divorced as indicated in divorce rates?
#1. Incompatibility. The differences that seemed interesting during dating may escalate beyond the point of no return.
#2. Irreconcilable Differences. At some point, couples may decide they just cannot try to make their relationship work anymore.
#3. Addictions. When one spouse is addicted to something, the other spouse can become a victim. Some addictions are obvious – like opioids or alcohol – but people can also be addicted to hobbies, work, or sex.
#4. Cheating. Infidelity is a significant cause of rifts in marital relationships. Some couples can withstand a few ‘mistakes’ while others call it quits after one occurrence, making their marriage part of rising divorce rates.
#5. Money. Whether you have it or not, money issues can strain a marriage. Sometimes it’s a lack of money. But some couples may find themselves fighting over how to spend their incomes.
#6. Unusual Circumstances. Even strong marriages can crack when the couple faces bankruptcy, unemployment, and serious medical conditions.
Can we add “the COVID-19 public health emergency” to the list as a reason divorce rates are on the rise?
Maybe, but why?
The COVID-19 Effect on Divorce Rates
Many people’s lives were utterly overturned when COVID-19 shutdowns and restrictions started in March of 2020. Married couples on the verge of divorce may have delayed filing. That’s one reason some studies show that divorce rates decreased.
As we begin pulling away from government shutdowns, divorce rates do appear to be rising in some areas. Here are some potential reasons for the increase:
- Courts are more open and accessible.
- People feel more comfortable contacting lawyers, whether by online video chat or in person.
- It’s easier to navigate the family court system when the offices are open, as opposed to using conference calls and online video hearings.
- People’s finances may have settled to the point that they feel comfortable making big changes in their lives.
- Some couples have held on as long as they can but now really need to terminate their relationship.
Two Articles about Divorce Rates, Different Times
The first article mentioned above – “Divorce Rates Are Now Dropping…” – compared divorce rates from March 2020 to February 2021 and the previous year’s same time frame. In other words, it’s comparing a lower rate during the height of the emergency to a prior time period. The lowered divorce rate can be explained by the difficulties people faced in filing for divorce.
The article discussing the increase in divorce rates uses a completely different period – approximately April 2021 to September 2021. During this time, many restrictions had been lifted. Understandably, the divorce rates would increase as people felt more comfortable interacting with attorneys and the court system.
Will divorce rates continue to increase or level out? Only time will tell.
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The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced at all phases of divorce, legal separation, and annulment. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website. We assist clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin, San Jose, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.