It would be safe to imagine that when the Chinese government lifted its quarantine restrictions, people would be running out to local parks, taking strolls around their neighborhoods, hitting their local gyms, visiting their favorite restaurants, and so on. But instead of the much-anticipated happening, something peculiar took place. Scores of married couples did the same thing. They didn’t go on dates together. Instead, they went straight to divorce lawyers.
As Bloomberg News recently reported, China’s post-quarantine divorce spike is a warning to the rest of the world still in lockdown. When the quarantine was started in China, officials were hopeful that couples being cooped up together would result in a baby boom since birthrates in the country have reached a record low since 1949.
In fact, one banner from a local family planning office was hung on a gate in Luoyang, a central Henan province. The banner read: “As you stay home during the outbreak, the second-child policy has been loosened, so creating a second child is also contribution to your country.” Of course, China won’t know if its efforts to increase thitsopulation worked until eight or nine months post-quarantine.
As China temporarily relaxed its second child policy, Chinese media reported on the uptick in domestic violence reports. For example, Sixth Tone, an online publication based in Shanghai, reported how police in one county in central Hubei province, located close to Wuhan, where the pandemic began, had seen a surge in domestic violence calls. In February, they received 162 reports of domestic violence, three times the number of reports (47) in February of 2019.
Feng Yuan is the cofounder of a non-governmental organization in Beijing called Equality. “Lockdown brings out latent tendencies for violence that were there before but not coming out,” she wrote in an email to Bloomberg. “Lockdown also makes help seeking more difficult.” According to Yuan, police were so busy enforcing quarantines that women who were being abused couldn’t leave, and the courts that normally issued protective orders were closed.
Are the divorces coming out of China a sign that a similar thing will happen here in the United States? We think so, but we’re not alone. If people can barely deal with each other when they get to go to work and see their friends and engage in hobbies alone, how are they going to deal with each other while in lockdown?
Like many divorce lawyers in the United States, we predict there will be a spike in divorces after the stay-at-home orders are lifted. For those marriages that were volatile before the pandemic, they’re probably going to explode during quthe arantine. But then, there’s going to be a second category of divorces – couples who had healthy marriages before the pandemic.
These couples were leading their lives apart 8 to 10 hours a day while their kids were in childcare or school. When their normal routines are dramatically interrupted, if they don’t have the tools to communicate effectively, they’ll have trouble adapting and their marriage can break down to the point where someone throws in the towel.
Some reasons why happy couples will struggle during quarantine:
Infidelity is one of the leading causes of divorce and even though quarantine makes it harder for cheating spouses to see their paramours, physical confinement can make it easier to get caught.
How many people are going to be sneaky and creep onto their spouse’s phones while they’re in the shower or when they accidentally leave a phone on a counter? Then, there’s the issue of a relationship having an ugly ending but the people are trapped inside and they can’t get away from each other. And what about the children who are trapped inside the unhappy home with their mom and dad?
That’s what’s the scariest. Adults get divorced all the time and that’s their right. They are adults who can make their own decisions about their marriages. But what about the children who are forced to watch their parents’ marriages self-destruct? This is not going to be a good thing and it’s happening as we speak. It’s dangerous for hostile couples to be forced to cohabitate with each other and this is one of the reasons why divorce attorneys have a grim prognosis for couples coming out of quarantine.
One reason why some couples will rush to divorce court after the pandemic is they’ll realize they’re not happily married. They’re asking themselves, “Why stay married to this person if it’s not working?” Aside from that, there’s a financial incentive to divorcing sooner than later.
On the day a couple files for divorce, it’s as if the value of their assets, including a business stock portfolios they self-manage are set in stone. So, it makes financial sense for many couples to file for divorce before those assets start to bounce back after the economy recovers.
Are you thinking about filing for divorce? Whether it’s because of domestic violence, a discovered affair, economic strain, or because you and your spouse can’t stand being with each other 24/7, we can help. To learn more about what steps need to be taken to get this process started, contact Claery & Hammond, LLP to schedule a free case evaluation.
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