COVID-19 is proving to be a love bug with a nasty bite, say those who oversee couples seeking divorces in Calgary.
Since the global pandemic kicked in last March, family lawyers and divorce facilitators say crumbling marriages have become more commonplace.
A host of stressors, conjured by the deadly virus, is plaguing relationships and those that were weaker before its onset are proving most vulnerable, said Karen Stewart, CEO of Fairway Divorce Solutions.
“There’s no question it’s put a lot of marriages that were already stressful under additional stress. . . It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen,” she said.
In recent months, Stewart said her company has seen a 30 per cent increase in inquiries, often driven by factors like financial woes exacerbated by COVID-19’s toll on jobs and incomes.
“When finances are tight, there’s a massive amount of stress,” she said.
Prolonged proximity among couples during the coronavirus lockdown can sometimes bring families closer together, said Stewart.
But what her business sees is the other side of that coin, when too much time together deepens pre-existing fault lines in relationships, she said.
Those same pressures are evident during the Christmas holidays and summer months, said Stewart.
“When you’re practically locked in the same house, every little thing is pushing buttons,” she said.
Figures provided by the province show the number of divorce application filings in Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench from March through June this year number 2,490, which is 29 per cent below the 3,503 in the same four months of 2019.
And this 2020 number is 35 per cent below the 2016 figure of 3,808.
But Stewart said those 2020 figures are misleading, noting they’re actually filings stemming from 2019 marriage separations.
“Filing for divorce is the last step — couples have to live separate and apart for a year to file,” she said.
Some of those lower numbers might also reflect more difficult access to the courts during the lockdown and a preference to put off that action due to the reality of COVID-19.
A spokesperson for the province, who provided the numbers, said the province couldn’t give an explanation for the downward trend because they “don’t track socio-economic data.”
A Calgary family lawyer who specializes in divorce said his office has also seen a noticeable increase in those seeking their services since the pandemic began.
“It’s not what you’d normally see. . . Everyone’s pretty busy, I can tell you that,” said Miguel Mejia of MM Law. “It’s pretty obvious COVID is pushing people over the edge.”
He echoed Stewart in saying a prime factor in those break-ups is monetary and that “you’ve got families already under pressure financially, and now you’ve got something pushing them further.”
He said prior to July, that side of their legal business was quiet but that changed abruptly during the summer.
Staff at another divorce resolution firm, Untie the Knot, didn’t return calls for an interview. But the company’s voice message states the firm is dealing with “higher than normal call volumes.”
Fairway Divorce’s Stewart said she’s noticed a trend toward fractured relationships in other ways, namely while encountering the manager of a Beltline-area condo building last June, whose one-bedroom units had become popular among suddenly single tenants.
“(The manager) said they’d been absolutely bombarded with relationship break-ups,” said Stewart.
On the other end of the marriage spectrum, those in the wedding business from event organizers to dress shops say COVID-19 has decimated their finances with lockdowns and size limits on events leading couples to postpone their nuptials.
Prohibida la reproducción parcial o total. Todos los derechos reservados de Rubicon, Global Trade, Customs & Business Partnership, S.C., del Autor y/o Propietario original de la publicación. El contenido del presente artículo y/o cualquier otro artículo, texto, boletín, noticia y/o contenido digital, entre otros, ya sea propio o de tercero alguno, publicado en nuestra página de internet u otros medios digitales, no constituye una consulta particular y por lo tanto Rubicon, Global Trade, Customs & Business Partnership, S.C., sus colaboradores, socios, directivos y su autor, no asumen responsabilidad alguna de la interpretación o aplicación que el lector o destinatario le pueda dar.