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Divorce inquiries surge during pandemic, more separations expected, says lawyer

Last Updated Jan 27, 2021 at 7:41 am PST

FILE - A couple watch the sunset from a park, Friday, July 3, 2020, in Kansas City, Mo. As the COVID-19 pandemic makes it harder for couples seeking a divorce to appear before a court, some family lawyers in Ontario say there may be more incentive for people to turn to alternative methods such as mediation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Summary

The pandemic is causing many couples to re-evaluate their relationships, with a growing interest in divorce

Lawyer Rain Henderson says she and her colleagues are swamped with inquires of couples exploring options

Last April, a divorce mediator anticipated a peak in separations due to pandemic isolation

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — With some couples pushed to the limits financially and emotionally during the COVID-19 pandemic, one lawyer says inquiries about divorce are up.

Rain Henderson, a partner at Henderson Heinrichs, says she is swamped with the current workload of couples inquiring about splitting-up, but as busy as it is now, she believes more people will start following through when life starts to stabilize.

“It’s definitely looking like a lot of people are fact-finding, getting information and taking that initiative to be able to separate once they are financially in a better position to do so,” she tells NEWS 1130. “Once we have people returning to work more steadily — if they still have the same inclination to separate — we’ll be seeing a surge of work coming our way.”

While consultations are up compared to previous years, people actually following through with divorce hasn’t notably increased yet.

“From my sheer workload and talking to my colleagues, we are swamped. It is definitely a busy time,” she says.

Henderson says she has been answering more questions about legal options if one parent doesn’t follow public health orders.

“People are exploring what their options are because they’ve been through a very stressful situation with COVID,” she adds.

Isolation adds pressure during pandemic

Back in April of 2020, after COVID-19 lockdowns swept across the country, experts suggested isolation could add strain to relationships.

Corey Anderson, a divorce mediator, told CityNews at the time there are two periods of the year couples often call it quits, after the summer and after Christmas.

RELATED: Divorcing couples may find mediation faster, cheaper during pandemic: experts

He anticipated a third peak after isolation.

“In periods of isolation when people are locked together or tied together we can expect to see increases in divorce rates,” he said.

 

Anderson explains the changes in lifestyle brought on by the pandemic alter the family dynamic and bring underlying issues to the surface.

“We’ve got nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. We just see it all and, eventually, we just end up focusing on the negative,” he added.

 

– With files from Rachelle Elsiufi