As many Americans face lockdowns with their spouses–and more quarreling in already tense relationships–they find themselves wondering if divorce is looming on the horizon. How do significant historical events affect the divorce rate? And what does this mean for us?
Divorce and 9/11
Sometimes, when things are uncertain, couples seek comfort with the familiar. One notable example is 9/11. Immediately after the terrorist attacks in New York City, the divorce rate dropped by 32%. The rate dropped in New York and the surrounding area, as well as in other large cities, like Los Angeles.
A similar divorce rate drop happened after the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995. Couples simply chose to stay together rather than separate during a difficult time. However, the divorce decrease may not have lasted that long. While couples chose to stay together immediately following the event, the divorce rate eventually increased in the long term.
Divorce and the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
One study of military families found an increase in the divorce rate for soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11. The divorce rate directly correlated to the amount of time the military spouse was deployed in a war zone.
Couples that experienced deployment to war zones were 28% more likely to divorce within three years of marriage, compared with couples that experienced similar deployment in more peaceful times before 9/11.
The 2013 RAND Corporation study found that, after deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan, couples faced the increased stress of being apart, as well as the stresses that can come when a military spouse returns to civilian life–like PTSD.
Divorce and Natural Disasters
Stress of all types can have an impact on the divorce rate. Studies have generally found that the stress of natural disasters drives couples apart. After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, for example, the divorce rate notoriously spiked. Divorce rates also increased after Hurricane Hugo, Hurricane Andrew and Hurricane Sandy.
Divorce and COVID-19
The New York Times recently reported that, in China, where the novel coronavirus forced hundreds of millions of people into lockdown, the number of divorce applications surged in at least two Chinese provinces when restrictions were lifted.
So, how will coronavirus affect the divorce rate globally? Only time will tell. The global pandemic is unprecedented. While there have been other pandemics, this one comes at a unique time in American history where divorce is more accepted than earlier in history.
Reach Out to Our Team for Divorce Help
At the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., we understand the major stresses that COVID-19 and the things that come with it–like social isolation and job loss–can put on a marriage. If you would like to seek legal counsel, our attorneys can help you achieve the best possible outcome. For a confidential consultation, call our Arlington office at 817-755-1852 or send us a message.