Partner Carly Kinch spoke to BBC Worklife about some of the potential reasons divorce enquiries are up in 2020. Data collected by the firm suggests a 122% increase in enquiries between June and October 2020.
The article, published on The Life Project section of BBC Worklife, states:
“At law-firm Stewarts, partner Carly Kinch describes the pandemic as ‘the perfect storm’ for couples, with lockdowns and social distancing causing them to spend increased amounts of time together. This has, in many cases, acted as a catalyst for break-ups that may already have been on the cards, especially if previous separate routines had served to mask problems. ‘I don’t think that the reasons that people are divorcing have necessarily changed. You’ve always had the underlying current of I’m unhappy with this or that at home. But I think it has just brought the focus on domestic arrangements really into much more sharp focus than they would ordinarily be.’”
“Kinch says her team wasn’t surprised by the surge in divorce applications after England’s first national lockdown ended, since break-ups usually spike after families spend longer together, like during school holidays or over Christmas. ‘I think lockdown is essentially like those prolonged periods, but with enormous added pressures,’ she says. What’s been different is the significant increase in the number of women initiating divorces, with 76% of new cases coming from female clients, compared with 60% a year ago. She believes this trend ties in with the findings of numerous studies of working parents’ lives during Covid-19, which suggest that a disproportionate share of housework and childcare is still falling on women, even in heterosexual couples where the male partner also works from home. She adds, ‘I think some people went into lockdown thinking: Oh, isn’t this going to be lovely! We’re going to spend lots of quality time together. And my partner, who’s normally in the city or commuting – they’ll be around and they’ll help more. And I think the reality for many has been a far cry from that.’”
Carly also comments on the why in some countries, such as US and Canada, there seems to be a rise in divorce applications amongst newlyweds, explaining that this may well be the first major life challenge young couples have had to face together. She says, ‘If you are newlyweds or relatively early on in your relationship, it might not have been tested in the way the marriages of 30 years have been over the years with different trials and tribulations.’ The article continues: “Meanwhile, the stripped-back lifestyle that the crisis has created is the opposite of many new couples’ visions of ‘wedded bliss about how perfect life is going to be’.”
Carly concludes by saying she does not think the rush is over yet. The article states:
“However, lawyer Kinch warns that improved economic fortunes could actually trigger divorces, because some spouses currently experiencing marital problems may be putting off splitting up for practical reasons. ‘I think as things settle down, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we saw another increase, just for the people that wanted to do it anyway, but just felt it was all too uncertain,’ says Kinch. She argues this new wave of break-ups might also include partners who are currently staying together because they are nervous about being alone, beginning to date again in an era of social distancing or, conversely, worried about the logistics of starting divorce proceedings while still cohabiting during lockdowns. ‘They don’t want to have to say, I want a divorce and then have to spend 24 hours a day with them.’
“Kinch’s firm is already experiencing increased enquiries from people ‘information-gathering’ ahead of future break-ups. ‘They come to us with lots of questions about what will life post-divorce look like: ‘How do I get from this point to my new life at the end?’’ she says. ‘I think people are doing probably a lot more research and groundwork than they might have before the pandemic.’”
The BBC Worklife article can be found in full here.
Covid-19 is impacting individuals and companies around the world in an unprecedented way. We have collected insights here to help you navigate the key legal issues you may be facing at this time.
You can find further information regarding our expertise, experience and team on our Divorce and Family pages.
If you require assistance from our team, please contact us or alternatively request a call back from one of our lawyers by submitting this form.
Subscribe – In order to receive our news straight to your inbox, subscribe here. Our newsletters are sent no more than once a month.