Till lockdown us do part ... divorces on the rise

The national lockdown has put a huge strain on marriages and driven up the divorce rate.
The national lockdown has put a huge strain on marriages and driven up the divorce rate.
Image: 123RF / Katarzyna Białasiewicz

The national lockdown has put a huge strain on marriages and driven up the divorce rate.

According to reports, marital tensions have been worsened by spouses having to spend so much time together.

Online legal firm DIY Legal said couples were separating as a result of enforced time spent together, the stress and challenges of Covid-19, as well as financial stress caused by job losses.

In July, it was reported that there had been a 20% increase in the SA divorce rate.

And there is an increase in couples seriously contemplating divorce,  says DIY Legal.

A report by the Daily Mail in the UK said the American divorce rate had soared by 34% while the separation of newlyweds had doubled to 20%.

Brendan McNulty, manager of DIY Legal, said the pandemic had placed additional stresses and strains on relationships.

He said Covid-19 had worsened problems within marriages.

McNulty said that during level five, interest in divorce applications had increased.

“Some people also said that lockdown gave them the opportunity to think about their life in a bit more detail and realise they weren’t in a marriage for life,” he said.

Mo and Phindi Grootboom, professional relationship and marriage coaches, said divorce often had a great effect on families, especially the children.

“Children brought up by both parents now have to face being with only one parent, which has a huge affect on their self esteem and self worth.”

“Divorce is also one of the main reasons children end up on the streets. They do this as a result of being angry with their parents for not protecting them. Divorce also causes the other spouse or the  children to turn to drugs as a way of finding comfort.

So we will see an increase in drug use either as a result of divorce or other stresses caused by lockdown

“So we will see an increase in drug use either as a result of divorce or other stresses caused by lockdown,” the duo said.

Bertus Preller, a family law and divorce lawyer, said marriages that had been in trouble before the lockdown were further exposed “to a situation where spouses were in each other’s presence 24/7 with no freedom”.

Preller said the lockdown had also unearthed domestic abuse in some relationships.

“Covid-19 has brought with it an array of psychological effects,” he said.

A Guide to Family Law, Divorce and Separation website, established by Preller, likens divorce to a death and how dealing with divorce is much like dealing with the various stages of grief.

“Grief is a natural reaction to loss, and divorce involves multiple losses. Loss of companionship and shared experiences, loss of support, be it financial, intellectual, social or emotional, and loss of hopes, plans and dreams,” according to the site.

The guide says the five emotional stages of a divorce separation include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

LISTEN | Expect a resurgence — but another lockdown won't help, says Prof Shabir Madhi

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