People are speaking with divorce lawyers and entering divorce-related searches on the internet much more this year than last year, a sign coronavirus lockdowns are wearing on relationships.
"It's really been non-stop these past few weeks," Vincent Stark, an attorney with Davis Friedman in Chicago, told the Daily News. "A lot of lawyers I know, the last two to three weeks we've all become very, very busy. We're busy with the Zoom hearings and depositions, then you've got new clients calling, and you're trying to schedule meetings."
The coronavirus pandemic stressed a lot of relationships with lockdowns, job losses and salary cuts. Experts have been predicting a divorce rate increase since the pandemic hit the US in March.
Nationwide divorce rate data is not yet available, but divorce-related searches on the internet support the case for an increase. Data analytics company SEMrush found that divorce-related keyword searches are up 11% this year, with nearly twice as many people searching, "file for divorce online" and 14% more people typing, "I want a divorce."
"It's probably related to stay-at-home orders and the amount of time people spend at home in this closed environment," SEMrush's Chief Strategy and Corporate Development Officer Eugene Levin told the Daily News. "There's an idea floating around that people see this year as a time to change things."
Divorce-related searches increased back in March and have held steady since, according to SEMrush data. Stark and other lawyers, however, have only seen an increase in real life clients in recent weeks.
Stark said that gap may be a result of economic situations stabilizing in recent months after the dramatic impacts of coronavirus in March. Lawyers, after all, are not cheap, and the search "how much does a divorce lawyer cost" is up 18% this year.
"At the beginning of Covid, people were locked up and kind of apprehensive," Stark said. "Now that we're coming out of it a little bit and some people are starting to go back to work, I think people are a little more financially confident to go forward with the process."
The divorce rate is also impacted by the worldwide increase in domestic violence during the pandemic. Levin noted that domestic violence-related searches also spiked back in March.
For some, the coronavirus pandemic likely pushed their relationship to a place it was already headed. Dating.com vice president and dating expert Maria Sullivan said that people may benefit long term from their pandemic relationship trials.
"If your relationship ended during the Covid-19 crisis, it is likely a blessing in disguise," Sullivan said. "This is a unique window of time that uncovers the strength of our relationships, whether we like it or not. We can use this year to determine if we really like who we are with and, if not, make necessary changes."