Divorce rates have increased around the world as couples were forced into lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many partners were coerced to spend more time together, longer than they previously had during their relationship and, at the same time, whilst being forced apart from other friends and relatives. The number of couples who sought legal aid for divorce in China increased, indicating a tendency that later unfolded around the world.
A warning from China
The first effects of COVID-19 on married life started to appear in China, the first country affected by the global pandemic. Here, couples started to seek assistance for divorce as early as April, as soon as the country loosened some of the imposed restrictions. In the first half of June, the Shenzhen civil affairs bureau reported that divorce appointments were fully booked. In April, the number of divorces was approximately 3,500 in Shenzhen.
Officials from Luohu district in Shenzhen also highlighted the fact that some couples had already decided on divorce before the lockdown was imposed and this is also a reason why the number of divorce applications was so high when the restrictions were lifted in April and May.
In the Hubei province, authorities reported that the divorce rates doubled in April after the lockdown.
Other countries around the world have also reported increased divorce rates as a result of the lockdown and others are expecting a surge in divorce cases as the lockdown measures are slowly relaxed. In Saudi Arabia, divorce rates have increased by 30% compared to the same period in 2019 according to local newspapers.
The strain on our relationships
Family conflicts escalated during the COVID-19 lockdown as couples were forced into spending more time together. Old relationship strains aggravated for many while for others, faults in their union became apparent specifically during these trying times.
Individuals who were already facing relationship difficulties were the most vulnerable during this time and, as such, divorce rates increased significantly. At the same time, domestic violence also increased during this time as an effect of the rising tensions, further fueling the grounds for divorce.
While the full psychological and financial effects of the of COVID-19 have yet to unfold, for many the initial lockdown period was a true relationship test as the stress of the confinement and the financial difficulties exacerbated existing problems or created new ones.
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