The coronavirus pandemic has dealt a serious blow to marriages in the US amid a 34 per cent increase in sales for divorce agreements and revelations that it took just three weeks under quarantine for relationships to crumble, according to a survey.
The outbreak of the coronavirus in January and implementation of lockdown orders in March forced couples to manage a plethora of new challenges.
The combination of quarantine life, wavering finances, mounting unemployment rates, illnesses, death of loved ones, mental illness and child care has led Americans lawyers to predict a record number of divorce filings.
In fact, 31 per cent of couples admitted the quarantine caused irreparable damage to their relationships.
Data collected by Legal Templates, a firm the provides legal documents online, outlined just how negatively the pandemic has affected couples.
According to the data, interest in legal separations peaked on April 13, which is 15 to 20 days – or three weeks – into when the majority of states implemented official quarantine protocol in March.
Data from Legal Templates found that interest in divorce peaked on April 13, which is just three weeks after most US states implemented quarantine restrictions
That’s a 57 per cent increase compared to February 13 of this year.
This uptick could coincide with what health and human services professionals refer to as the ‘disillusionment phase’ of the Phases of Disaster.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration characterizes this phase as when ‘communities and individuals realize the limits of disaster assistance.’
‘As optimism turns to discouragement and stress continues to take a toll, negative reactions, such as physical exhaustion or substance use, may begin to surface,’ the group wrote.
April in the United States saw New York City’s emergence as the coroanvirus epicenter of the country.
Much of America watched as New York City’s morgues overflowed, hospitals became overrun, front line workers pleaded for PPE supplies on social media and one of the most buzzing cities went quiet.
April 6 recorded the highest number of cases in New York City with 6,377, while the highest number of deaths was April 7 with 598.
The United States this month continued to lead the world in both coronavirus cases and deaths under leadership from the Trump administration.
According to data, states along the Bible Belt recorded the highest number of divorce rate during the COVID-19 pandemic, including Arkansas and Alabama
President Trump has been scrutinized for placing much of the pandemic response on individual states rather than a robust, sweeping solution at the federal level.
Current COVID-19 Numbers for the Southern States with the Highest Divorce Rates
As of Friday morning:
Mississippi: 80,695 cases and 2,399 deaths
Oklahoma: 55,550 cases and 778 deaths
Arkansas: 58,745 cases and 739 deaths
Alabama: 121,000 cases and 2,076 deaths
Louisiana: 146,000 cases and 4,974 deaths
But while much of the early focus of the coronavirus pandemic was on large states like New York and California, data from Legal Templates found that Southern states had the highest divorce rates.
The company received its highest purchase of divorce agreements per capita in the South, which was followed by the Midwest, the West Coast and Northeast.
The Bible Belt claimed the top five spots with Mississippi, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama and Louisiana.
Those five states also happen to be among the hardest hit by the pandemic. Louisiana led the pack with more than 146,000 cases and nearly 5,000 deaths over the last six months.
Additionally, those five states also have 50 per cent of its workforce employed in ‘high-risk of layoff occupations.’
Increasing corornavirus cases and an unstable job market may have contributed to the high divorce rate during the pandemic.
Of the couples who used Legal Templates services, newlyweds were hit the hardest with divorce blues.
Couples married for five months of less sought divorce at 20 percent during compared to the just 11 per cent in 2019 – nearly doubling the rate.
This indicates that couples that got married between January and March were already discussing separation between April and June.
On the other hand, 58 per cent of users pursuing a legal divorce during the pandemic were married within the last five years. That’s a 16 percent increase from 2019.
Newlyweds took the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic with a 20 per cent increase compared to the same time last year
The rate of divorce filings decreased the longer a couple was married, with partners who married in 2015 only recording a 6 per cent divorce rate
But the number of of people who sought divorce steadily decreased depending on how long they were married.
While 20 per cent of couples in 2020 filed for divorce, the number dropped to just 6 per cent for those married in 2015.
Children also played a factor into pandemic-era divorce filings and rates.
During the pandemic, 45 per cent of couples that completed Legal Templates divorce agreement had children under the age of 18 – a five per cent increase from the same period in 2019.
While divorces involving children can be tense, the pandemic appeared to rally parents together and 51 per cent of couples who used the contract agreed to share the cost of their child’s medical insurance equally. Last year, that number was at 38 per cent.
The majority of couples getting divorced, according to Legal Templates data, did not have children under the age of 18
The inflated life insurance policy amount indicates that Americans have become more concerned with their mortality
Amid the rise in divorce filings, the number of life insurance policies and payouts have also grown.
If a party is required to pay spousal support per divorce agreements, they may be forced to ensure their payments with a life insurance policy to guarantee the receiving party gets the money even in the event of their death.
Data from Legal Templates showed that of those paying spousal support, 51 per cent must carry a life insurance policy with an average policy amount of $382,599.
That’s a shocking 31 per cent spike compared to 2019, which recorded an average policy amount of $291,186.
The inflated life insurance policy amount indicates that Americans have become more concerned with their mortality as the country amassed more than 5.8million cases and 181,000 deaths.
As September nears, the United State has continued to wage an ongoing battle with the coronavrirus pandemic that much of the world has learned to manage.
The stressors of the pandemic, coupled with the upcoming November presidential election, may see even more divorce filings and separation rates.
Additional Findings from Divorce Data
According to data collected by Legal Templates,
- 28 per cent of couples own a vehicle together, and 23 per cent own a marital home
- 17 per cent of couples have a joint back account, while 14 per cent are solely responsible for any individual or joint debts of their partner
- One party will pursue a name change once quarantine is over in 38 per cent of marriages – noting a 18 per cent decrease from 2019
- Six per cent of couples had at least one partner that was in the United States Armed Forces
- One partner is required to pay spousal support in 12 per cent of divorces with an average spousal support request at $1,128 per month
- Two percent of users were awaiting the birth of a child – a 100 per cent increase compared to 2019