Family Law and the Pandemic
The pandemic has affected almost every aspect of our lives since March 2020. Families and relationships have experienced particular strains, challenges and pressures throughout this time. In this article, we reflect upon the impact the pandemic has had upon families and couples and consider the potential consequences the pandemic could have upon family life for years to come.
The impact of the pandemic on families
The Covid-19 pandemic has been a very difficult time for many families. Not only have the lockdowns forced families to be stuck together at home for extended periods of time, but matters such as home schooling, home working, social isolation, shielding, health concerns, fears for the safety of loved ones, money issues, redundancy, furlough and concerns over the future have made things even more challenging. Family lawyers have reported that these challenging circumstances have resulted in a sharp upsurge in enquiries about divorce and separation since the onset of the pandemic.
Rise in separation and divorce
Family lawyers often comment that they see a spike in divorce and separation enquiries following periods when families spend a lot of time together, such as the summer holidays and Christmas. When the distractions of normal everyday life are removed, difficulties in relationships can sometimes become much harder to ignore.
It is thought that this has been one of the main driving forces behind the steep rise in divorce and separation since the onset of the pandemic.
For couples who were already going through difficulties, the pressures of the pandemic have in many cases caused the relationship to breakdown entirely. Indeed, the unique circumstances of the past 18 months have caused cracks to appear in some relationships that were previously strong and steady.
Nesting is a new family law concept which has come about as a result of the pandemic. This is a term used to explain situations where couples break up but continue living together. In some cases this has been necessitated by pandemic induced financial difficulties and the challenges in arranging a new place to live. In some cases, couples have viewed nesting as a way to mitigate the impact of the separation on children. However, nesting can create its own issues and can sometimes add more strain and animosity than in circumstances where one partner moves out of the family home.
What to expect in 2022
The pandemic has forced many of us to consider what we want from our lives, work and relationships. It has forced us to closely consider the life we have and the life that we want in the future. Many people are turning their backs on lives in busy and expensive cities in exchange for more affordable housing and the slower pace of the country. Workers are resigning from their jobs in record rates in a phenomenon which has been dubbed, “The Great Resignation”. Some are looking for positions that offer a better work/life balance, more flexibility or family friendly policies.
It is this change in mindset that many family lawyers consider will drive the continued rise in divorce and separation into 2022 and beyond.
Family law experts