Divorce rates expected to surge after the coronavirus outbreak, family attorney says

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Thursday, April 30, 2020
Divorce rates expected to surge post-coronavirus outbreak, family attorney says
The stresses of being cooped up together at home for weeks can certainly take a toll on married couples and it will likely show when divorce courts reopen.

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- The stresses of being cooped up together at home for weeks can certainly take a toll on married couples.

Issues that arise, however, are often worked out according to longtime Raleigh family law attorney Debbie Sandlin.


However, according to Sandlin, if one of those spouses is having an affair the old excuses used during normal times no longer work

"You can say, 'I'm going to run down to the gym' or 'I'm going to run down to the grocery store', 'I'm going to meet Bob out for a beer', 'I'm going to meet Sarah and we're going to go walking on the greenway'. You really can't do that now with the stay-at-home order," Sandlin said.

Sandlin says under the current circumstances staying on the down-low for weeks on end is nearly impossible.

Those having an affair often let their guard down because it's so much harder to hide communications like phone calls and texts with their love interest.

"People are desperate to talk to their paramours. And it's a lot of times during that that it's uncovered that there is infidelity," Sandlin said.

And because they can't go see the person they're cheating with there is a lot more of that phone communication than normal.

So Sandlin also expects private investigators will be seeking a lot of cell phone records.

"There will probably be a real surge in digital forensics here coming up," she said, "because people are going to want that information."

Sandlin says, however, it's not just cheaters that may come out of the quarantine with marital issues.

"People are in close quarters. It gives you more chance to be irritated about all the little things that irritate you about your spouse," she added. "So even people that are happily married or going along okay are apt to run into hard times now if they don't get the help they need and be patient and realize that this will pass."

Sandlin says no matter the reason for the discord she expects divorce courts will be flooded once they reopen.

"It's really the perfect storm we're looking at now. People who may not have been thinking about divorce but weren't particularly happy may get pushed to that end. People who were already on the edge, teetering at the edge trying to hang on by their fingernails, I think that once the courts open back up and they can have access to that, I think you're going to see a surge in that," she said.

But there's also those who were ready to file for divorce when the pandemic hit.

It all adds up to a situation that may be overwhelming for caseloads according to Sandlin.

"So I think court systems are really going to be clogged when this thing opens up."

Sandlin also says despite her calling she hopes most married couples will seek the help they need to get through what is a trying time for many marriages.