Given that COVID-19 has had many profound effects on countries, economies, businesses, and society overall, it’s no surprise that this pandemic has also had some correlation with the divorce rate in Canada during recent times.
Amidst COVID-19, divorce rates increased by around 30 percent all over the world. This has also increased the workload of professionals like family lawyers, therapists, and the like.
In this article, we will have a closer look at the effects of COVID-19 on the divorce rate in Canada, comparing figures of pre-pandemic divorce rates with that of recent times. We will also look into the contributing factors for this phenomenon and we’ll finish off with future projections and next steps for anyone who is considering a divorce.
Let’s get started!
The Divorce Rate in Canada: Pre-Pandemic vs. In Recent Times
Historically, divorce rates in Canada have had a steady increase over the past years. Could it really be all that different in the years with the pandemic? Let’s have a look at the number of divorces starting in 2010 all the way to 2020. The divorce counts for each year are all cited from Statista.com.
The Story Behind the Numbers
An increase of 40,000 more people undergoing divorce during 2019 is nothing unusual at first glance. However, it’s of note that the increase during 2019 (+40,000) is well above the average and median value within this data set.
Furthermore, in the past 10 years, values of increase usually dip or stay the same after reaching the median mark (30,000). Since the pandemic, the value of increase has not dipped below this median mark.
So, down to the crux of the matter: has the pandemic caused a spike in the divorce rate in Canada so far?
It may be too soon to tell and these numbers may not tell the whole story. Here’s why:
- These numbers do not include the individuals who are still thinking about divorce or are currently processing a divorce. Hence, this data set does not reflect the fact that many family law firms are experiencing an increase in their clientele since the pandemic began.
- Also, we have yet to see what the numbers will be by the end of 2021 before we can deduce a more solid pattern.
Looking Beyond Quantitative Data
In some regard, however, it may be that the more important question to ask is not “how much” but “how.” Specifically, “how is the pandemic affecting the divorce rate in Canada?”
The qualitative answer to this question may give even better insight for anyone who is looking for more awareness on divorce as a personal decision. And that’s what we’re discussing in the next section.
Factors Contributing to the Increase in Canadian Divorce Rates
To answer the question, “How is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the divorce rate in Canada,” we have narrowed down the following factors.
The overarching theme of these factors is that COVID-19 is much like a crucible that fast-tracks the resolution of many marital relationships—whether it’s towards fortification, compromise, separation, or divorce.
These are the main factors that contribute to divorce associated with the pandemic:
1. Increase Time Spent Together
For couples who are able to work well together and enjoy each other’s company, the increase in time spent together due to COVID-19 restrictions may be a silver lining to all the confusion happening in the world.
However, to couples who have had latent issues or have had a relatively distressed relationship, the increase in time that’s spent together is all part of the perfect storm which can end in divorce.
A few of the common situations that occur due to increased time together for strained relationships include:
- Discovering or fully realizing an unpleasant aspect of a partner that was before unrealized, ignored, or overlooked
- Realizing that teamwork is not as solid as it should be during stressful times
- Awareness of the lack of pleasant feelings regarding the relationship
- Misalignment regarding beliefs, goals, or values
2. The Lack of Distractions and Escape
For many couples, day-to-day distractions may have helped in prolonging a strained relationship. These would have taken the form of social gatherings and events, hobbies and classes, travel, and even work. But because of lockdowns and travel restrictions, many of these distractions became unavailable or unreachable. This propelled everyone to look at their relationship for what it truly is and take the appropriate course of action—which for some, is divorce.
3. The Realization That Life is Too Short
When mortality knocks on the door, it leads many people to have profound personal realizations. For couples that are going strong, the pandemic can inspire them to be even stronger and look forward to all that life has to offer once the pandemic (and its restrictions) dissipate.
However, for couples that are already experiencing a strained relationship, realizing the shortness of life may be the catalyst needed for either or both partners to take a stand on what’s negotiable and what isn’t. Many are inspired to seek true happiness and a more peaceful living situation because life is, in fact, too short. A divorce might be the answer that they turn to after such realizations and subsequent failures in compromise.
4. Overall Stress
The situation created by COVID-19 has presented stress on numerous levels: physical, emotional, mental, and financial. These extreme stressors may expose more chinks in the chain for couples in already strained relationships. Mainly, marriage should be about good teamwork at its core. And these stress factors brought about by the pandemic can expose the lack of such a crucial component, thereby sowing the seeds of desire for divorce.
A Possibility of a Divorce Spike AFTER the Covid-19 Pandemic
Some experts project that divorce can spike after the Covid-19 pandemic. The reason being that some people may take time to decide or act on their decisions. Hence, the factors we’ve listed above may not immediately spark divorce, but may well lead to divorce later on. This is particularly true for individuals, in any part of the world, who are merely waiting for easier access to law firms once restrictions calm down.
What to Do If You Are Considering a Divorce
Given that there are numerous factors that contribute to the divorce rate in Canada, particularly during these times, anyone considering divorce deserves to get the clarity they need. Therefore, in such a situation, couples can still seek the help of experts like therapists, life coaches, mediators, and so on.
However, there is also the legal aspect of a divorce that one needs to prepare for. By consulting with experts in family law, you can learn more about the nuances of child custody, child support, dealing with properties and other assets, and so on.
Having a fully informed decision, knowing what to expect, and enlisting the help of the right experts can make all the difference between a stressful court battle and a divorce process that is seamless and hassle-free.