According to a survey on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on relationships, 31% of couples say the quarantine has been damaging. With so many couples struggling, lawyers across the US are predicting record numbers of divorce filings once quarantine restrictions are lifted, as seen in China.
Many couples are spending 24/7 together and confronting major COVID-19 related stressors that are spilling over into their marriages, such as quarantine conditions, unemployment, financial strain, death of loved ones, illness, homeschooling children, mental illnesses, and more.
With growing tensions between couples, we’ve seen a 34% increase in sales of our divorce agreement compared to the same period in 2019.
This influx of users has given LegalTemplates data-driven insights into why thousands of couples are ending their marriages during the COVID-19 pandemic — information that won’t be available from government sources or scientific studies for years to come.
Our data reveals these shocking insights about divorce during COVID-19:
- The COVID-19 quarantine destroyed marriages in less than 3 weeks
- Newlyweds were hit hardest by a significant margin
- Couples in southern states were far more likely to seek a divorce
- The rate of divorcing couples with children increased compared to 2019
- The number of life insurance policies and payouts required in divorce settlements soared
Here’s how the COVID-19 crisis is ripping apart marriages across the US.
COVID-19 quarantine destroyed marriages within three weeks
Interest in separation during quarantine peaked on April 13 — a 57% increase compared to Feb 13, 2020. That’s just 15-20 days into when the vast majority of states began official quarantines.
It’s possible that divorces spiked as people entered what mental health and human service professionals refer to as the “disillusionment phase” of the Phases of Disaster — the time when optimism turns to discouragement, stress heightens, and negative reactions often occur.
This is referred to as the “reality hits” phase in a study tracking moods in the UK during the pandemic.
Newlyweds were hit hardest
Our data reveals that 58% of users pursuing a divorce during the COVID-19 pandemic were married within the last five years — a 16% increase from 2019. This indicates that recently married couples were less equipped to deal with the stressors of the COVID-19 virus than mature couples.
However, it was extremely recently married couples (five months or less) that experienced the most devastation.
In 2019, only 11% of users were married for five months or less before purchasing a divorce agreement. During the same time period in 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 quarantine, that number nearly doubled to 20%, meaning that a significant number of couples got married between January and March and pursued a divorce in the quarantine period between April and June.
Quarantine clearly wasn’t the honeymoon newlyweds in 2020 were hoping for.
Our data shows the number of couples filing for divorce during the pandemic steadily decreasing with each year of marriage. After a massive decrease from 2020, of couples filing for divorce:
- 20% were married in 2020
- 9% were married in 2019
- 9% were married in 2018
- 7% were married in 2017
- 7% were married in 2016
- 6% were married in 2015
Couples in southern states were far more likely to seek a divorce
During the COVID-19 crisis, we experienced the highest purchase of divorce agreements per capita in the South followed by the Midwest, the West, and the North East.
The rate of divorce in the south was two to three times higher than the rest of the US regions.
The Southern states with the highest divorce rates were:
Notably, those are also the US states hit hardest by COVID-19. According to a study, in all five of these southern states, roughly 50% of the workforce is employed in “high-risk of layoff occupations.”
This major stressor could have contributed to the high rate of divorces during the COVID-19 crisis.
The rate of divorcing couples with children increased
Usually, having children younger than 18 makes couples less likely to divorce, but that didn’t hold true during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We found that during the crisis, 45% of couples that completed our divorce agreement had children under the age of 18. This represents a 5% increase from the same period the previous year.
But they were more cooperative about sharing the costs of their children’s healthcare
51% couples who used our contract agreed to share the cost of their children’s medical insurance equally compared to just 38% in 2019 — a huge consideration during COVID-19, and likely the cause of this surge in cooperation.
Number of life insurance policies and payouts soar
If one party must pay spousal support, they may be required to secure their payments with a life insurance policy to ensure the receiving party will receive payment in the event of their death.
Our data also reveals that of those paying spousal support, 51% are required to carry a life insurance policy with an average policy amount of $382,599.
This is a steep increase from the 31% of users required to have a life insurance policy in 2019 with an average policy amount of $291,186.
People are clearly more worried about their own mortality than prior to the COVID-19 virus outbreak.
The 65% increase in policy requirements and $91,413 increase in policy amount may be due to the fact that coronavirus has encouraged many to engage in end-of-life planning. Many life insurance policies will cover death from the COVID-19 virus.
Additional COVID-19 divorce stats
With unstable economies and housing markets, mass unemployment, and closed courthouses, it’s difficult for couples to navigate a divorce during this precarious time.
Our data revealed the following statistics about couples pursuing a divorce during COVID-19:
- 23% of couples own a marital home, and 28% own a vehicle together
- 17% of couples have a joint bank account, and 14% are solely responsible for any joint debts or debts of the other party
- One party will pursue a legal name change once quarantine is over in 38% of marriages — an 18% decrease from 2019
- 6% of couples had at least one partner who was a member of the United States Armed Forces
- One party is required to pay spousal support in 12% of divorces with the average amount of spousal support requested coming in at $1,128 / month
- Two percent of respondents were awaiting the birth of a child — a 100% increase from 2019
Ongoing impact of COVID-19 pandemic on divorce
It’s clear from our data that the COVID-19 crisis has increased divorce rates across America — particularly in newlyweds and couples with young children.
Unfortunately, the stressors presented during these unpredictable and unprecedented times were too much for many couples to handle.
It’s possible that divorce rates will continue to rise as economic, financial, social, institutional, and psychological turmoil from the COVID-19 virus unfolds.