To Stay or Not to Stay: Pandemic Raises the Question of Divorce

By: Patricia Mohamed

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The COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on many aspects of people’s lives including their jobs and finances. Those aren’t the only things suffering; relationships are collapsing and divorce on the rise. Divorce isn’t new; it’s been happening for decades. According to Statista, divorce has steadily increased in Canada in the past 20 years.  But, with the pandemic almost hitting the one year mark, “There has been an increase in couples seeking a divorce and there will be a spike in filings when the courts open,” says multiple lawyers who spoke with Global News and Google Trends’ search interest supports this statement. Despite peoples interest in marriage during the pandemic, the interest in divorce has increased from 2019; the increase really beginning to show two months into the pandemic.

What’ going on?

Toronto family lawyer Barry Nussbaum says, “The triple whammy of financial stress, couples being quarantined together, and having children at home,” is to blame. The pandemic has also served as an eye opener for many who have long been in unhappy marriages. One Brampton mom of two, Mary, whose name is changed to protect her privacy, says, “I’ve come to realize that life is too short to live without passion and love.” Being in lockdown with someone she “didn’t like,” pushed her to her breaking point and in October, she filed for divorce from her husband who she was married to for 11 years.

Bringing out bravery

While divorce may seem like the end of the road for some, for others, it’s the beginning of a new future. For Amanda, whose name has also been changed to protect her identity, it’s a step to safety for her and her two boys, five and four. “The pandemic made me realize just how abusive my ex-husband was. I spent more time at home and was scared at being more isolated.” Work served as an escape for many women facing abuse at home and with lockdowns and social distancing in effect, it’s given them the push to make the necessary changes in their lives. “It was something I thought about for a long time, but the pandemic made me realize I needed to do it,” Amanda says.

There is help

Liza Bakhshi, a family lawyer at Dhillon Law in Mississauga, Ontario, says there hasn’t just been an increase in divorce but also in the amount of calls her office is receiving to inquire about divorce in general. Divorces and separations can be complicated and it’s important to pursue any professional help you need including mental health support, she says.


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