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Stay-at-home measures set the stage for marital strife

Shortly after New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy issued the stay-at-home order to help curb the coronavirus spread, lawyers and therapists noted an immediate uptick in calls. Most callers were spouses seeking help with their marriages.

Since cities around the world placed their populations in lockdown, divorce rates have increased. As families must spend all day in close proximity, couples choose to solve their marital problems, one way or another.

A familiar trend

Couples in China, where the government suspended quarantine measures a few weeks ago, are filing for divorce in high volumes. This trend serves as a likely forecast for Americans as well. Especially since the majority of civil courts have closed for the duration of the quarantine. When the courts reopen, court personnel must manage months of delayed cases alongside a likely surge in divorce filings.

Times of financial strife usually lead to a spike in divorce cases. After the Great Recession of 2008, divorce rates rose 10%. During the Great Depression in the early 1930s, Americans were too poor to file for divorce. Once the economy recovered, divorce rates spiked significantly. Many lawyers anticipate a similar trend to show by the end of 2020.

On the other end of the spectrum, marriage counselors and therapists report a spike in calls for counseling. Erin Wiley of The Willow Center in Ohio says their facility has a marriage counseling wait-list for the first time. The number of people seeking help encourage Wiley and her counselors. The tension of the past few months inspires couples to fix their marriages or end them.

A local attorney can answer questions

Spouses with questions about divorce can reach out to a local lawyer familiar with family law. An attorney can assess a case, offer advice and help schedule a virtual court date if needed. Victims of domestic violence should call the National Domestic Violence hotline immediately.

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