It’s safe to say we saw a significant increase in divorce enquiries during the tumultuous past year, many of them directly related to the pressures of lockdown and the stresses of living through a pandemic. That’s not to say covid-related issues were the cause of people wanting to separate, but in many cases they were what pushed relationships to the brink and forced people to reassess their priorities. Financial worries, job losses, disagreements over the division of labour at home, or simply being cooped up together in such a high-stress situation are all potentially compounding elements when it comes to a relationship already under strain, and for some, the events of 2020 created a ‘make or break’ situation.
A survey by relationship charity Relate found that almost a quarter of couples felt that lockdown put extra pressure on their relationship and found their partner ‘more irritating’. Some even discovered their spouse had been having a secret affair that could no longer be hidden with the logistics of lockdown. Many people found that the situation created a ‘relationship realisation’ with 43% saying lockdown brought them closer and 8% deciding it was time to end things with their partner. It makes sense that the pressures of lockdown would magnify the existing dynamic in a relationship – both good and bad – bringing existing issues to the surface and forcing couples to confront them. And when a relationship is already struggling, sometimes working through those issues just isn’t possible.
If you’ve made the decision to separate this year, the first thing to do is speak to a properly qualified family solicitor to help you look at your options and start to make a plan for how to move forward.
It can also be very helpful to see a counsellor – either independently or as a couple – not necessarily with a view to ‘fix’ the relationship, but to work through the emotional aspects of the situation so you don’t bring any resentment or animosity into the legal side of things. We have all been through a huge upheaval the past year, and if you’re dealing with divorce on top of that, you likely need (and deserve) some extra support.
It’s so important to be able to communicate clearly during divorce, and not get sidetracked by ‘who’s to blame’ or trying to ‘get back’ at your spouse. Divorce is not about fighting. It’s about moving on, as best you can, to make a better future for yourself.
For more advice and information on divorce and separation, book a free 45-minute family law consultation with one of our expert solicitors – by Zoom, FaceTime, or phone – and let’s make 2021 the year things start to get better.