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Increase in divorce due to self-isolation

The current situation caused by Coronavirus is ever-evolving and a constant source of conjecture, and for some, fear. As we know, the Prime Minister recently imposed measures for us all to remain in our homes except for specified, essential workers or single trips to exercise or shop for groceries. Many people have been ‘furloughed’ by their employers – meaning that they are not carrying out work but are receiving a portion of their usual salary paid for by the government. This means that not only are the majority of the population of the UK at home, unable to go out and socialise as normal, but also are without the purpose and drive that comes with being employed. So, does this mean that there will be an increase in divorce due to self-isolation?

Why does self-isolation lead to increase in divorce rates?

It is commonly reported by the media and practitioners that divorce enquiries and applications increase noticeably after the holiday periods, such as Christmas. It is therefore unsurprising that some are speculating as to a spike in divorce rates during and following this COVID-19 isolation period. Certainly, some amongst the profession have outwardly expressed their belief that this will be the case. Spending prolonged periods with a partner can be challenging at the best of times, and coupled with the uncertainty, lack of social and other stimulation which feature in this isolation period, clearly there is a heightened level of tension for everyone.

At the moment, there is no concrete evidence as to whether divorce rates have or will rise during this period but additional pressure on relationships such as the current confinement inevitable cause tension and stress. Certainly, one cannot help but wonder whether the current increase in requests from the Courts/centres for paper divorce petitions is as a result of a spike – or the failure of the online system to cope.

It is interesting though to compare England and Wales with other countries such as China, which are on their way back to normal after cases of the virus have been decreasing. It has been reported in The Global Times that some districts of Xi’an ‘have seen a significant number of divorce applications since reopening on March 1’. This may be due to couples being stuck together in isolation, or could be due to the fact that the divorce offices were closed and therefore upon reopening had a backlog of people who would have attended anyway.

Hawkins Family Law remain live to the issues that are affecting people during this difficult time. We recommend therapeutic support to help with adjusting to this new state of affairs and coping with stress. We would refer anyone with concerns, or experiencing difficulties, to our in-house counsellor, Emma Chamberlain, who can carry out video and telephone sessions. She can be contacted through our normal email and telephone channels.

If you have any questions about an increase in divorce due to self-isolation, or would like to speak to one of our legal professionals, please contact us.

Having graduated in July 2017 with a first class honours degree in law from the University of Bedfordshire, Holly has since been exploring her interest in Family Law. She is currently undertaking her postgraduate LPC and masters course to qualify as a family solicitor. Holly joined Hawkins Family Law in August 2017. She has previously volunteered with public legal advice services and currently is enjoying a new challenge having recently begun a paralegal role at Hawkins Family Law.

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