Things we’ve learned about quarantine-driven divorces

Things we’ve learned about quarantine-driven divorces

The gradual reopening of some counties in Washington may do some good for the economy, but not necessarily for the public healthcare system. It’s still safest to stay at home.

It also remains to be seen whether the easing of lockdown measures will improve the relationships of couples sheltering in place to comply with Washington Governor Jay Inslee's "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order in March.

In China, divorce rates surged as couples came out of lockdown. Putting two and two together, one could argue that cooped-up couples equal conjugal strife. But long periods spent together could mean different things to different couples.

Here’s what we’ve learned about quarantine-driven divorces.

COVID-19 pandemic or no, divorce is inevitable for some couples

When you can only tolerate your spouse in small doses, isolating in the attic or basement doesn’t put nearly enough distance between couples who have brewing marital issues — pandemic or no.

But innocuous partings do occur in the time of corona as in the case of singer Kelly Clarkson, who in June filed for divorce from husband Brandon Blackstock. The two split due to their busy schedules, and their amicable separation had nothing to do with a third party called “Ms. Rona,” who is known to wreak havoc on relationships.

Ditto costume designer Mollie Gates, who filed for divorce from her husband of four years, Silicon Valley”actor Thomas Middleditch. Mr. Middleditch informed the press that their swingers’ lifestyle “has saved their marriage.” One can argue that the slim opportunities for swinging in the last couple of months may have contributed to their split. To this we say, Ms. Rona is innocent until proven otherwise.

These two examples aside, the pandemic is at least responsible for some couples’ splitting.

Pandemic-prompted parting

Dancer-actress Julianne Hough recently parted with her husband of three years, hockey star Brooks Laich. Sources close to them said that their split was a long time coming. It was realizing that they were both fine being apart while on lockdown that made them decide to part ways. This was Ms. Rona inadvertently acting as a mediator for the exes.

Non-married couples, too, like sportscaster Jill Martin and Erik Brooks were affected by the pandemic. While lockdowns forced some couples to shelter in place together, it had the opposite effect on these two who were forced to live apart in different states throughout the lockdown in their respective states. Sadly enough, it was not a case of absence making the heart grow fonder.

Just as it continues to destroy economies and public healthcare systems, the coronavirus pandemic has also caused various types of marital and personal distress. Another divorce that was the handiwork of COVID-19 is former Boyzone member Shane Lynch and his wife Sheena White, who were “at each other’s throats” during the lockdown.

Pandemic-driven divorce emergency

Making couples want to divorce isn’t the only thing the pandemic can do. It can also delay it.

Mary-Kate Olsen faced a pandemic-sized problem when, in April, she tried to divorce her husband of five years, Olivier Sarkozy. New York courts, however, prevented her from filing due to COVID-19 and would only allow it if it was a divorce emergency.

And it was indeed an emergency for Ms. Olsen. In early May, Mr. Sarkozy’s legal team advised her that she only had until May 18 to take her things out of their apartment. A divorce filing would have prevented Mr. Sarkozy from throwing her stuff out, especially during such a difficult time.

Alas, the pandemic and the courts threw a wrench in the plan.

Enforced lockdowns and strict measures about going out may hinder your plans to get advice about your marriage or about getting a divorce. Sometimes, all you can do is pick up the phone to learn about your options.

As Washington family law attorneys with years of experience, we prefer the good old-fashioned “dissolution of marriage” over that once-in-a-century term, “quaranvorce.” If you have questions about Washington state family law or how to divorce safely during the pandemic, leave us a message.