Many people have asked us whether there is an increase in divorce since the shutdown of 2020.  Although it is too early to really know, it seems to us that it may not be so, even though we have been very busy since July of 2020.

In Dutchess County there are usually about 1000 divorces per calendar year resolved by the Court.  In 2020, the Courts and law offices were not operating at full strength for much of the year.  Only 721 divorce cases were filed, and only 581 divorces were granted.   During the first half of 2021 the Courts and law offices may not have been fully operational, so there may continue to be a lower number of divorces filed this year.  As a result, we may see an explosion of new filings in late 2021 and 2022, but the average number of divorces over the three or four year period between 2020 – 2024 may not show an increase in divorces after all.  

An article by the Institute for Family Studies (IFS) in Virginia acknowledges a thesis popular in the early days of the pandemic, namely, that COVID may have expedited divorces because of lockdown-related stress. However, that may now be relegated to the zone of dark humor, because in actuality, 58% of married American reported the pandemic made them appreciate their spouse more.

The context for the IFS article is a bit surprising. In 2019, the US national divorce rate was the lowest in 50 years, 14.9%. This reality is fascinating in view of the commonly-quoted divorce rate of 47-50%.

Equally interesting is the fact, also reported by the IFS, that the US marriage rate hit an all-time low in 2019. For every 1,000 unmarried adults in 2019, the IFS article says, only 33 got married. This number was 35 in 2010 and 86 in 1970.

At the end of the day, the relationship that is marriage differs from couple to couple. Statistics tell us about societal trends and some are instructive as we learn about ourselves while others aren’t. As these particular statistics run contrary to most people’s expectations, I found them interesting and thought you might too.

Kathryn Lazar, Esq.