Are Divorce Lawyers Losing Their Jobs in NYC?

Like anything else that gets media attention today, it always depends on where you look and how much you want to dig. Take COVID divorce rates, for example. On October 16, 2020, the National Law Review published an article that indicated that “divorce rates were spiking,” citing a September 1, 2020 article in the New York Post entitled “US Divorce Rates Skyrocket Amid COVID-19 Pandemic.”

According to the National Law Review article, “With many couples stuck in the house, homeschooling children, and facing added financial uncertainty, it should come as no surprise that the coronavirus pandemic is placing additional strain on relationships that were already struggling.”

So What Happened?

These predictions may have reflected a surge early on in the pandemic, but what happened later was just the opposite. As of just this week, media reports indicate that both marriage and divorce rates have actually slowed significantly over the past year. In New York and throughout the country, although divorces had a surge in the early months of COVID, they now seem to be plummeting. Of course, economic factors may explain this.

Economic Factors and the Reality of Divorce

Naomi Cahn, a law and research professor at the University of Virginia School of Law and senior contributor to Forbes, wrote a piece in January explaining just why we may be seeing this current drop in divorces — and marriages — right now. Both marriage and divorce are expensive propositions and the cost to maintain two households is exponentially larger than maintaining one.

According to Amanda Miller, an expert in family and sociology at the University of Indianapolis, divorces had already been consistently low for college-educated couples. But for those who were most likely to have lost jobs during the pandemic, the new decline in divorce rates may be artificially low since those who may have wanted to divorce simply could not afford to do so.

According to a recent New York Times article, many divorce attorneys and family experts offer much the same reasoning. Harriet N. Cohen, founding attorney at Cohen Stine Kapoor LLP in Manhattan, was quoted in the article, saying, “So many negative things are currently happening that people are afraid to change the status quo, and are staying married.”

But Ken Jewell, another New York divorce attorney, offered a more uplifting theory based on a survey he sent out to subscribers in the United States and England. Of the respondents, 17 percent said the pandemic had actually strengthened their relationship.

The Unfortunate Rise of Domestic Abuse

Unfortunately, the pandemic has substantially impacted those who found themselves isolated with an abuser. Shelters for battered and abused women such as the Apostles House in Newark, NJ, have seen a surge in calls asking if they have room, so much so that they have sent some families to local hotels that have offered shelter. The New England Journal Medicine went so far as to call domestic violence during COVID “a pandemic within a pandemic.”

Will COVID result in divorce lawyers losing their jobs in NYC? It seems unlikely.

According to Ms. Cohen, “Ironically, the same vaccines that will hopefully return life to normal will also prove to be the catalyst for a new rise in divorces. We have no doubt that divorces will surge again, but for now, uncertainty in the order of the day.”

If you have questions about divorce and how it may affect you or a loved one, we are happy to answer any of your questions. Contact us at Vangorodska Law Firm to schedule a free consultation.

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