Stateline divorce rate on the rise amid pandemic

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A new survey shows the latest victim to fall to the coronavirus is marriage.

“A lot of times when people are busy at work, they don’t get a chance to see how dysfunctional a relationship is until they’re in close proximity to the person for a long length of time,” said local divorce attorney Tomiko Ballard.

Stay-at-home orders across the country forced couples together indoors for months, driving many apart. Ballard says high tensions caused by too much or too little alone time, access to the other’s phone and other factors have led to the increase.

The LegalTemplates.net divorce survey found that the number of couples filing has increased 34% since Spring of 2019. Quarantine seems to have hit newlyweds the hardest, as couples married five months or less are pursuing a divorce at double the rate of 2019.

Ballard says the pandemic isn’t just increasing the number of couples filing for divorce, it’s also impacting how they do it.

“You have to be a lot more technologically advanced to participate in court proceedings. We’re doing all of our hearings on Zoom, very little court is actually in person,” she said.

On the other side of the coin, while more people file divorce papers, others fight to keep their vows.

“In the last three or four weeks, it’s really mushroomed,” said relationship counselor Janna Becherer regarding scheduled appointments. “I think the stress of all this togetherness is getting to people, and good for them that they’re interested in working things out and not just filing divorce papers.”

Marriage counselor Kevin Polky agrees, and believes decisions amid a global health crisis should not be made lightly.

“Try to not make any major decisions during [stay-at-home orders] because there’s an emotional recovery, there’s a healing process, there’s a grieving process,” said Polky. “I do believe that counseling and having a third party, can give us opportunities to reframe [marital issues].”

The marriage counselors encourage struggling couples to remember to be patient, kind, give the other person space and hear each other out during uncertain times.

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