Divorce rate may spike because of quarantining and Covid-19 lockdown, divorce lawyer warns

26 March 2020 - 07:05
By Nivashni Nair
Relationships will be tested, a divorce lawyer has warned.
Image: 123RF Relationships will be tested, a divorce lawyer has warned.

When a Johannesburg woman promised to love her husband in sickness and health 14 years ago, she never expected that being alone with him 24/7 would make her question her vows.

The couple, who work in the banking sector, were instructed to self-isolate when they returned from Germany more than two weeks ago.

He says she nagged, while she discovered that he was "quite annoying".

Their self-isolation was expected to end on Monday, and they were both "grateful" to finally leave each other's company.

But then President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a lockdown, forcing them back into their home.

Divorce lawyer Shando Theron says the divorce rate obviously hasn't peaked yet in SA because the lockdown hasn't started.

However, relationships will be tested.

"So far the spike has not reached us as the numbers of self-quarantine have not become evident.

"There has, however, been a steady increase in divorce numbers due to the deteriorating economic climate in our country. When the money goes, the love follows suit, or at least becomes a much scarcer commodity," Theron said.

"Financial strain is a huge source of conflict in a relationship.

"Disease adds yet more stress and strain to a relationship - especially where both parties are sick and needy.

"On their own, none of the above are deal breakers, but add this to the mix of many relationships already flirting with marital disaster, it may very well be the ton of bricks that breaks the camel's back."

Relationship expert Paula Quinsee said couples being forced to work from home together, the added complexity of childcare and the disruption of daily routines, would cause conflict in relationships.

"The two biggest stresses that individuals take to work with them are relationship or family and financial stress.

"Going to work every day allows couples to put some space between them to reflect, think, breathe and potentially cope with what is going on at home.

"Understanding that being in each other's spaces is going to cause disagreements, or arguments, agree on how you will manage them."

Handy tips:

Try and maintain as normal a daily routine as possible if you are forced to work from home:

Explain to your children what is going on and what they need to do;

Take turns entertaining the kids if both parents are working at home;

Take time out by taking small breaks;

Put steps in place to help you build your relationship during this period and going forward;

Communication is key for couples;

Set up a specific work area for yourself in home; and

Speak up if you are feeling anxious, stressed or frustrated.