Divorce rates will rise as Covid restrictions lift

The divorce rate will ‘explode’ as Covid restrictions are lifted and requests for legal advice soar.

Many estranged couples have postponed their formal divorce proceedings because courtrooms were either closed during the lockdowns or restored to video link.

In 2020, the divorce rate rose by just 1.9 percent compared to 2019, of which 49,510 were granted last year, the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced this week.

The divorce rate per capita, for every 1,000 people, was 1.9 percent, a level well below the 2.9 percent level of 2001, and the number has been declining steadily over the past two decades.

The divorce rate will ‘explode’ as Covid restrictions are lifted and requests for legal advice soar. Many estranged couples have postponed their formal divorce proceedings as courtrooms were closed during the lockdowns (pictured is a stock image)

But the Separation Guide, which helps struggling couples navigate divorce, said its own data showed a 90 percent increase in legal advice requests in 2021, as residents of Sydney and Melbourne went through strict, prolonged lockdowns.

Chief executive Angela Harbinson said the Family Court would likely be flooded with divorce cases, which could take anywhere from 12 weeks to seven years to complete, depending on how complex the assets are.

“Since divorce can sometimes last more than five years, we fear that the effects of the pandemic on the family court will be felt for a long time to come,” she said.

The Federal Circuit and Family courts are both facing long delays, with divorce attorney Bron O’Loan saying the wait was about two years.

“The court, like all organizations around the world, has opted for a mix of digital and personal solutions to overcome the backlog,” she said.

Chief executive Angela Harbinson said the Family Court will likely be flooded with divorce cases, which could take 12 weeks to seven years to complete

Chief executive Angela Harbinson said the Family Court will likely be flooded with divorce cases, which could take 12 weeks to seven years to complete

Ms Harbinson said the lockdowns had strained many relationships.

“During the pandemic, couples and families were spending more time together than usual, along with the added pressures of homeschooling and working and being unable to connect to their usual support networks or community,” she told Daily Mail Australia.

‘In some cases, financial tensions and domestic violence also played a role.’

The official government data reflected couples who had started their separation and divorce proceedings before the pandemic started.

“Unfortunately, it just doesn’t reflect what’s happening right now,” Ms Harbinson said.

“If the increase in the number of investigations we’ve seen translates into a similar increase in married couples seeking divorce, there will be a real bottleneck in a family court system that is already under strain and potentially about to explode.”

In 2020, the divorce rate rose by just 1.9 percent compared to 2019, of which 49,510 were granted last year, the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced this week.  But the Separation Guide, which helps struggling couples navigate divorce, said its own data showed a 90 percent increase in legal advice requests in 2021, as residents of Sydney and Melbourne went through strict, prolonged lockdowns.

In 2020, the divorce rate rose by just 1.9 percent compared to 2019, of which 49,510 were granted last year, the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced this week. But the Separation Guide, which helps struggling couples navigate divorce, said its own data showed a 90 percent increase in legal advice requests in 2021, as residents of Sydney and Melbourne went through strict, prolonged lockdowns.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics admitted that its own data should be treated with caution, adding that ‘any breakdown in marriages during the COVID-19 pandemic over several years may not be reflected in changes in divorce rates’.

The more immediate effect of lockdowns has been on marriages, with the number dropping 30.6 percent in 2020 – the biggest annual drop since registration began in 1901.

The wedding guest limits — with New South Wales having a 10-person limit — did more to deter the marriage than World War II or the Great Depression.

The 78,989 of those who tied the knot was the lowest since 1961, when 76,686 weddings took place when Australia had 10.5 million people instead of 25.7 million.

Saturday, October 10 was the most common date for a wedding, followed by other Saturdays, including February 22, March 14, March 7, and surprisingly February 29, which occur only once every four years during a leap year.

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