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According to a recent piece in the New York Post, many antsy, stir-crazy New York couples are on the verge of divorce. They’re allegedly calling divorce attorneys in record numbers. When courts re-open, an avalanche of divorce actions “are expected” to flood the courts once they re-open.
One Manhattan attorney was quoted as saying that as a result of home confinement, these cooped up couples “…realize that they can’t stand each other.”
Many other attorneys who attend to wealthy couples also report a sharp uptick in divorce inquiries.
But I’m wondering if New York attorneys are engaging news-hungry tabloids in an attempt to drum up divorce business by normalizing the idea that experiencing a home quarantine with a difficult spouse is intolerable.
After all, the New York Post is hardly a bastion of American journalism.
It’s different, for example, in another wealthy enclave, Austin, Texas. Divorce petitions filed in the latter half of March decreased by 46% from the same period last year. They were also 36% off from that same period two years ago, according to the district clerk’s office.
Unlike New York, The civil courthouse in Austin allows for a judge to finalize a divorce via remote videoconference.
Divorce lawyers in Travis County Texas say their phones have all but stopped ringing. Attorney Jimmy Evans attempted to goose his legal practice with a local radio spot: $1,000 off uncontested “agreed” divorces.
There’s anecdotal evidence that this coronavirus home quarantine is a significant stressor on marriages.
Densely populated cities like New York, might be seeing an uptick in requests for divorces.
In the city of Xi’an, China, divorce requests shot up so quickly, local government officials could not keep pace with demand.
But from a science-based perspective, it’s important to note that that this data is still unclear. It’s a bit too early to draw a final conclusion on the resilience of American marriages in the face of COVID-19.
Demand for divorce may be high, but so is the interest in science-based couples therapy. Many couples are clearly hanging on and trying to make it work, and are asking for help.
However, as I mentioned in a previous post, all marriages will be stressed by the coronavirus, and it makes sense that struggling marriages, particularly in stressful urban settings, are more vulnerable.
Divorce is not something that happens to unhappy couples…it’s also something that happens to families. A half-century of solid research tells us that the aftermath of divorce echoes through time.
What will your kids say 20 years from now? Will they say that their parents were on the verge of divorce… but got some help putting their marriage back together during the Great Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020?
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Brand JE, Moore R, Song X, Xie Y. Parental divorce is not uniformly disruptive to children’s educational attainment. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2019;116(15):7266-7271. doi:10.1073/pnas.1813049116
D’Onofrio B, Emery R. Parental divorce or separation and children’s mental health. World Psychiatry. 2019;18(1):100–101. doi:10.1002/wps.20590
Kleinsorge C, Covitz LM. Impact of divorce on children: developmental considerations. Pediatr Rev. 2012;33(4):147-54. doi:10.1542/pir.33-4-147
Rappaport SR. Deconstructing the Impact of Divorce on Children. Family Law Quarterly. 2013;47(3):353-377.
Wallerstein J, Lewis J, Rosenthal SP. Mothers and their children after divorce: Report from a 25-year longitudinal study. Psychoanalytic Psychology. 2013;30(2):167-184. doi:10.1037/a0032511.
Daniel is a Marriage and Family Therapist. He is the Blog Editor. He currently works online seeing couples from Massachusetts at Couples Therapy Inc. He uses EFT, Gottman Method, Solution-focused and the Developmental Model in his approaches.
We schedule three double sessions with you in total. You complete an extensive online relationship questionnaire. In that final meeting, we spend almost two hours with you explaining, from a science perspective what's working in your relationship, what's not, and how to fix it.
It's all done online, either week-by-week or over a weekend.
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