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Couples feeling strained during quarantine and questioning their relationships are not alone

Divorce rates are rising as couples deal with the fallout from COVID-19.

HARTFORD, Conn. — Legal Templates reports that divorce rates spiked by 34% during the pandemic and that newlyweds' divorce rate – especially those married less than five months—had doubled.

According to the website, 45% of couples pursuing a divorce have children under 18 years old. Up from 5% last year.

These breakups started increasing around April 13, just weeks after the majority of states locked down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Between quarantine life, unemployment, financial stress, childcare issues, virtual learning, mental illness, and deaths of loved ones, relationships are falling apart. [Maybe] they were rocky to begin with and these circumstances just heightened all those feelings," said Renee Bauer, a family law attorney with Bauer Law Group.

Bauer says divorce inquires have increased at her firm, but there’s been a back up in the system due to COVID-19. While courts are slowly starting to get back to business as usual things look very different. Pre-trials, hearings, and even trials conducted virtually.

“For a while, it felt like divorces were stuck in the system, and couples were kind of stuck in this divorce purgatory, “ said Bauer. “There’s a screen between you and the judge and I would argue so much of the human element is removed it might be less satisfying testifying through a screen.”

Bauer said she recommends mediation to her clients. She said it’s the way to go in order to resolve your divorce in a timely matter, and in some cases, you may never have to step foot in a courtroom at all.

Licensed marriage and family therapist Kate McGetrick based out of RISE Wellness in Madison says her office was immediately inundated with couple clients. 

"The stress of this pandemic has brought some underlying issues to the surface," said McGetrick. "So certainly for couples, it might be this thing that without all the stress, they’ve been able to get and stay busy doing other things. Now, they’re just really having to face these issues and their relationships are feeling threatened by that."

Both lawyer Bauer and McGetrick agree that while the stressors of this unprecedented time have been heavy for couples to handle, it has jump-started people taking action, whether it be getting out of a toxic marriage or sticking with and improving relationships for the better through couples therapy.