As soon as lockdown measures were announced across the global, the talk of so-called “lockdown divorces” began. The idea was simple: couples would now be forced to spend seemingly endless amounts of time together, dealing with stresses and strains that very few people will have ever been prepared for. Surely, the theory goes, a rise in divorces would be inevitable.
There appears to be some truth to the initial speculation. For example, 42% of Australians said lockdown had had a negative impact on their relationship, and stories are starting to circulate on online forums and sites such as Reddit, written by people who are considering divorce when lockdown measures end.
If you find yourself amongst those who are contemplating an end to your marriage, then here are a few points you may find helpful to keep in mind.
Consider the timeline
Even amongst the lockdown divorce speculation, one fact remains: it is highly unlikely that a happy, well-adjusted, content couple would enter lockdown feeling positive about their marriage and be on the brink of filing to formally end their marriage just a few months later. It could just be that overexposure to your spouse has harmed your relationship; something which is entirely natural and which can likely be repaired with a few behavioural changes and the help of a therapist. However, if lockdown has intensified feelings you have had for some time, then it may be that your marriage was already faltering - and thus separation could be worth exploring in more detail.
Do your research
Divorce is an expensive, stressful experience at the best of times, and it very much looks as if the next few months - if not years - will be far from “the best of times”. The process of dividing assets and arranging child custody and support could be all the more strenuous if your employment or housing situation changes due to the coming recession, so you need to know exactly where you stand before you commence proceedings. Research everything you possibly can about divorce and the entire surrounding process, visiting the likes of Eric Palacios Law to get the clarity you need as you embark on the process. The more research you have at your disposal, the more likely it is you will be able to manage and control the entire process even as outside circumstances prove challenging.
Consider postponing the conversation
If you and your spouse are on the same page, then you can discuss your separation openly with one another. However, if there is a discrepancy - for example, you are considering divorce, but your spouse has made no mention of it - then you may want to be cautious about opening a discussion about the issue. At present, separation is challenging: one of you moving out is tough when restrictions are still in place, so you will still be forced to spend a lot of time together by sheer necessity. If there’s no viable way for either of you to leave (or you do not wish to do so), then reserving the conversation until things are easier could be best for everyone involved. Both you and your spouse will likely need some space after the topic of divorce is raised, even if the discussion is cordial, so hold off for now and use the time to research and contact the relevant professionals so you have all of your facts in order.
Lockdown divorces will be an unfortunate reality for some couples, but still need to be approached with caution. Hopefully the advice above will assist you in this regard if you have started to speculate about the future of your marriage over recent months too.