News National Coronavirus lockdown prompts more couples to seek divorce
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Coronavirus lockdown prompts more couples to seek divorce

Australian couples are feeling the pressure in coronavirus lockdown. Photo: TND
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Coronavirus lockdown is taking a heavy toll on Australian couples, as a growing number of people seek to get divorced or receive relationship counselling to save their marriages.

Being stuck inside all day with the same people can cause some of the strongest relationships to fracture, and the added pressure of financial stress can dial up the tension even more.

If you’re finding it hard to get along with your partner, you are not alone.

Lawyer Fiona Reid, who specialises in separation and divorce at Reid Family Lawyers, said divorce inquiries were rising among couples in home isolation due to the coronavirus.

“I haven’t in my career seen something as catastrophic as this for relationships,” Ms Reid told The New Daily. 

“Financial pressure is a common issue in relationships and the added issue of social isolation, when people are working from home and not able to go out to dinner or watch sport, can make cracks become more pronounced.”

In China, divorce applications dramatically spiked in March as married couples emerged from weeks of intense lockdown conditions, media reports from major cities show.

Incidents of domestic violence also multiplied.

In Miluo, a city in Hunan province, “staff members (didn’t) even have time to drink water” because so many people were lined up to file for divorce, reported the local council. 

For parents, the situation is even more challenging, especially now that more children are staying home from school and doing online classes.

Fiona Reid said divorce inquiries were increasing during the pandemic. Photo: Reid Family Lawyers

“Kids are probably acting out even more because they’re stressed, too,” Ms Reid said.

If your situation is unbearable, it is possible to get a divorce.

Before that can happen you need to be separated from your partner for at least 12 months.

“If you want to move house, you can,” Ms Reid said.

“There’s been a real spike in instances of domestic violence. It’s crucial people don’t stay in a situation where they’re being exposed to violence that could be escalating.”

Organising the rest can come later.

“Figuring out parenting arrangements, dividing up property, all of that can be worked out the instant you separate,” Ms Reid said.

“Get legal advice early on, know what your entitlements are, the best outcomes and arrangements for children.”

But before you head down the expensive and stressful road of divorce, remember you have other options.

Relationships Australia CEO Elisabeth Shaw said people struggling to get along with their partners should call an expert for advice first.

“Even if you get along moderately well but you start fighting, you could start to think there’s trouble afoot, but maybe there’s not. It’s normal to be struggling,” Ms Shaw told The New Daily. 

“Getting some outside perspective is always a healthy thing to do, to make sure you’re making the best possible decisions.”

Elisabeth Shaw said couples need to know they have options before seeking a divorce during the pandemic. Photo: Relationships Australia

In New South Wales, Relationship Australia’s Time 2 Talk hotline is available for people who need quick relationship advice.

Phone or video call consultations can be organised with Relationships Australia counsellors across the country.

“If you realise that the lockdown has confirmed you need to separate, you need to ask yourself: Is there reason for me to enact this right now? Can we talk it out or work it through?” Ms Shaw said.

“You can get carried away with a dark thought, but maybe that’s not necessary.

“A divorce is something you’ve been thinking about for a while.

“It’s very confronting, but it’s not something that happens overnight by chance.”

If you or someone you know is at risk of violence, call 1800 RESPECT.

Time 2 Talk hotline: 1300 022 966

Relationships Australia: 1300 364 277

No To Violence men’s referral service: 1300 766 491