Are You Getting Married or Divorced After the Pandemic?

Post-Pandemic: To Wed or Un-Wed? The end of lockdowns means major changes for many American relationships: some are getting married, some are ending marriages. This may explain why!

When a couple embarks on marriage, they take a vow to contractually lock down together in nearly every way. However, prior to 2020, it is unlikely that couples anticipated the new meaning that “locking down together” would soon take.

Throughout the pandemic, many couples found themselves spending more time together than ever, and shortly after the lockdowns began, researchers and everyday people alike became curious about the marital implications of such change. You may have even found yourself stressed about what this new era of uncertainty means for your own love life.

It is commonly said that the divorce rate is 50%. At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a popular speculation that divorce and separation rates would increase, disrupting this commonly cited statistic. After all, the previously small incompatibilities in relationships were becoming catastrophic as opportunities to seek independent refuge from one another decreased. It makes perfect sense that individuals discovered that their “perfect partner” was not the ideal partner for these new circumstances, and the data seems to support this. A leading British law firm reported a 122% increase in divorce inquiries at the height of regional lockdowns, between July 2020 and October 2020. A similar increase is reflected in U.S. data. Additional research conducted by the University of Washington predicted that this trend would continue following lockdowns, referencing the trend of increased divorces following long periods of time together such as holidays and summer breaks.

As expected, the uncharted terrain presented by navigating a pandemic together had an effect on marriages, although it is not what was expected. Towards the end of mass lockdowns, divorces began to decrease. Marriages began to decrease as well. Why?

Marriage and divorce data collected in five states (Florida, Arizona, New Hampshire, Missouri, and Oregan) suggest that nationally, there were approximately 350,000 less marriages and 200,000 less divorces in 2020 as compared to previous years with no identifiable explanation including compared categories of race, political identification, and sexuality. Couples across all spectrums experienced a decline in both marriage and divorce rates without explanation, leaving researchers stunned (particularly about the low divorce rate). What happened to everyone complaining about shared space with their spouses? Were they able to magically resolve their seemingly irreconcilable differences? Courts are still hearing cases virtually, so what’s the hold up?

Postponing divorce may have a simple answer: money! Josh Shilts, certified public accountant and scholar of 16 years, cites the increased financial uncertainty for the underwhelming divorce rate. As people are trying to maintain financial stability, unsure of what is around the corner in the current positions and the general job market, preserving a dual-income household presents an attractive security. 

Meanwhile, the unexpectedly low marriage rate during the lockdown period may have an optimistic answer as a positive shift is underway. Contrary to popular headlines at the beginning of the pandemic, local family attorneys are currently experiencing a spike in inquiries regarding prenuptial agreements (commonly known as prenups) rather than divorces. Put simply, there appears to be more people who are pursuing marriage with their partners than those seeking to exit marriages in this semi-post-pandemic world! Rather, they are waiting to host the wedding of their dreams!

This lines up with the findings of U.S. venues and vendors, who are currently overwhelmed and overbooked with weddings for the next two years, which Bloomberg is referring to as a “major marriage boom.”

According to Linda Piff, Esq., her practice has experienced a “large increase in clients asking for prenuptials as well as couples asking for mediation” as lockdowns come to an end. She concludes, “Apparently, the lockdown has resulted in people desiring to be married or desiring to end the relationship in an amicable fashion through mediation,” as she identifies a correlation between the end of lockdowns and the increase of both life-changing marital decisions.

The pandemic brought many changes with it and as the pandemic restrictions begin to lift, there are more changes to be anticipated. However, some things stay the same: take marriage, for example. Statistics and headlines seem to tell a tale of fluctuating marriage and divorce rates during the pandemic. However, further digging reveals that these dramatic changes are not indications of changed minds, rather indications that couples making either decision were likely just postponing that step for more predictable times. If you’ve read this far, you likely fall into one of the two categories and you’re ready to take a leap. So, whether that is pursuing a divorce or designing a prenup, contact our office and we’ll be happy to help!

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