Sam Longworth speaks to the Sunday Times about the pressures the pandemic has brought to family life. The article focuses on one lawyer’s view that adultery as a reason for divorce has dropped while controlling, coercive, and other types of bad behaviour as reasons for divorce have soared.

The Sunday Times article states:

‘Other law firms have noticed a surge in contact from those looking for divorce advice, with relationships falling apart after months under the same roof.

‘Stewarts said that demand was 122 per cent higher between July and October compared with the same period in 2019.

‘Sam Longworth, 41, a partner at Stewarts, said: “The pandemic really has put a mirror up, shone a light, on lots of relationships. Some of these relationships might otherwise have lasted for ages.”

‘He too noted an increase in controlling behaviour, or problems such as addiction, worsened by the pandemic, leading to marriage breakdown.

‘“Where there has been this physical closeness, it has been the opposite in terms of emotional connection… Lots of times it has actually meant that your home environment, which is meant to be safe and secure, has actually been a point of strain and stress,” he said.’

The full article in the Sunday Times can be accessed here (subscription required).



How has the pandemic impacted divorce trends?

Building on his conversation with The Sunday Times, Sam answers below further questions relating to divorce and relationship trends, as experienced by the team here at Stewarts.


How have divorce and family cases changed during the pandemic?

“Divorces and separations traditionally followed a major point of stress or the reaching of a tipping point, where one or both parties decide to call time on the relationship. The major points of stress are pretty unpredictable (such as the discovery of an affair) and lead to people seeking advice on divorce throughout the year. The tipping point situations often followed periods of time where the couple spent more time together, such as holidays. That is why you often saw an increase in new divorce enquiries after the major holidays at Christmas, Easter and the summer.

“The pandemic has completely levelled off these trends. It has also forced people to be a lot more structured in how they are going to separate and to look very commercially at what separation might look like in a world where living apart is often far more complicated than living together, especially for international families.”


Are there any trends in new divorce and family enquiries?

“Almost all of the new clients I have had since the pandemic hit have referenced an impact of Covid-19 on their decision to pick up the phone and speak to a divorce lawyer,” Sam said.

“I think the pandemic has caused more problems than it has solved for couples in general. It has caused almost everyone to experience a fundamental shift in their day-to-day lives, as well as health and financial worries. This has heaped pressure on even the most settled of families. The result of this has been to flush through a lot of relationship issues that may have been bubbling away under the surface for people, but that they have not had the time or inclination to face and address during their hectic lives pre-Covid.”


How has homeworking affected relationships?

“Space, the nature of work, the response of employer/staff to lockdown situations, the impact of the pandemic on your work, children, physical health, mental health, you name it, the variables are endless. Undoubtedly there are some positives to working from home as a family, including being more involved with their children’s lives.

“But as well as the positives, having to turn a home into a dual office (and school) has been incredibly stressful for many couples and has undoubtedly led to stress, resentment and anger, which will have placed relationships in jeopardy.”



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