On the Verge of Divorce?

According to a recent piece in the New York Post, many antsy, stir-crazy New York couples are on the verge of divorce. They’re allegedly calling divorce attorneys in record numbers. When courts re-open, an avalanche of divorce actions “are expected” to flood the courts once they re-open.

verge of divorceOne Manhattan attorney was quoted as saying that as a result of home confinement, these cooped up couples “…realize that they can’t stand each other.”

Many other attorneys who attend to wealthy couples also report a sharp uptick in divorce inquiries.

But I’m wondering if New York attorneys are engaging news-hungry tabloids in an attempt to drum up divorce business by normalizing the idea that experiencing a home quarantine with a difficult spouse is intolerable.

After all, the New York Post is hardly a bastion of American journalism.

Not All Couples are on the Verge of Divorce

It’s different, for example, in another wealthy enclave, Austin, Texas. Divorce petitions filed in the latter half of March decreased by 46% from the same period last year. They were also 36% off from that same period two years ago, according to the district clerk’s office.

Unlike New York, The civil courthouse in Austin allows for a judge to finalize a divorce via remote videoconference.

Divorce lawyers in Travis County Texas say their phones have all but stopped ringing. Attorney Jimmy Evans attempted to goose his legal practice with a local radio spot: $1,000 off uncontested “agreed” divorces.

Too Early to Tell… But There are Noticeable Cracks…

verge of divorceThere’s anecdotal evidence that this coronavirus home quarantine is a significant stressor on marriages.

Densely populated cities like New York, might be seeing an uptick in requests for divorces.

In the city of Xi’an, China, divorce requests shot up so quickly, local government officials could not keep pace with demand.

But from a science-based perspective, it’s important to note that that this data is still unclear. It’s a bit too early to draw a final conclusion on the resilience of American marriages in the face of COVID-19.

Demand for divorce may be high, but so is the interest in science-based couples therapy. Many couples are clearly hanging on and trying to make it work, and are asking for help.

However, as I mentioned in a previous post, all marriages will be stressed by the coronavirus, and it makes sense that struggling marriages, particularly in stressful urban settings, are more vulnerable.

9 Impacts The Verge of Divorce Has on Children That are Simply Well-Researched Facts

Divorce is not something that happens to unhappy couples…it’s also something that happens to families. A half-century of solid research tells us that the aftermath of divorce echoes through time.

  • Young children often believe that if their parents can stop loving each other, then maybe they may stop loving them as well.
  • Research tells us that kids in grade school children may believe that the verge of divorce is their fault. They sometimes verge of divorcethink that their misbehavior is the cause. Some children may act out to become a more significant problem and force their parents to unite in a joint effort to fix them instead.
  • Teenagers may become quite angry about the disruptive changes the verge of divorce creates. They may unite with one parent and blame the other for the breakup of the family. Sometimes they may hold resentment toward both parents.
  • Children of divorce are emotionally impacted because the relationship with both parents is often stressed.

Impaired Parental Relationships

  • In a typical divorce, children lose daily contact with their fathers. This decreased engagement weakens the parent-child bond, and according to research published in 2014, many children feel less close to their fathers after the divorce.
  • As if that wasn’t bad enough, there is also an impaired relationship with custodial mothers. These divorced moms often report higher levels of stress associated with single parenting. A disturbing study first published in 2013 indicates that some mothers are often less affectionate and attentive after the divorce is final. Another issue is that their ability to discipline their kids becomes less consistently effective.

Behavior and Mental Health Issues

  • It’s pretty well known that children with parents on the verge divorce experience more externalizing impulsive behavior, (for example, conduct disorders) than kids from intact two-parent families. These children may also experience more conflict with their peers, as well.
  • Depression and anxiety are more common in children with divorced parents.
  • Children with parents on the verge of divorce often struggle academically. A recent study published last year suggests that kids from divorced families tended to have more academic difficulty if the parents suddenly announced that they were on the verge of divorce. But children who anticipate their parent’s imminent divorce were more emotionally buffered and were less likely to experience a negative outcome.

7 Essential Questions To Ask Yourself in Home Quarantine About the Merits of Divorce

  •  Ask Yourself…Is This Global Pandemic Just the Mother of All Rough Patches? If you’ve been shift wildly between wanting to leave and wanting to buckle down and work it out before the coronavirus, then this is no time to make a decision. Get some good online couples therapy, because this is a rough patch That will help you both sort out what’s salvageable. It might be a lot more than you think.
  • Ask Your Spouse… Why Would You Want to Work on Our Marriage? Coronavirus or not, motivation is the lifeblood of relational change. The strongest predictor of marital recovery is the desire to improve. If both spouses really want a marriage to heal, they can make happen with a little help. Your differences are unavoidable, but not unbridgeable. Thinking about the impact being on the verge of divorce will have on your kids might supply sufficient motivation.
  • Ask Yourself…Would Someone Else Really be a Better Partner for Me? Sometimes, especially at work, attractive others present themselves. But the research on divorcing and marrying affair partners is pretty clear. If someone else is drawing you into an emotional affair, odds are in a few years you’ll be a lot poorer, and just as miserable.

Do You Have Unspoken Resentments?

  • Ask Yourself…Have I been Harboring Unspoken Resentments?  Now that your partner is perpetually underfoot, perhaps is more difficult for you to avoid conflict. Some of us learn in our families of origin that conflict is wrong and should be avoided. Not true. Conflict is inevitable and can be managed with skill. Every relationship goes from perfect bliss to power struggles. It’s the natural evolution of intimacy. With the right communication skills, you can pull back from the verge of divorce and get your groove back.

What’s in Your Control…and What Could Be Better?

  • Ask Your Spouse… Here’s What I Think I Could do Better. What Do You Think? Odds are you’re both contributing to your marital unhappiness. But unless you can take a good look at your side of the street, you’re going to remain hyper-focused on your spouse’s shortcomings. Their deficits will be on abundant display during this home quarantine. But guess what? So will yours. If you’re so unhappy that you’re on the verge of divorce, what could you do better?
  • Ask Yourself…What is in My Control? Now, more than ever, we all need to focus on what we can control. Notice the many things you can directly control, and ask your partner to notice what they can control. Don’t be surprised if your relationship becomes calmed and more cooperative as a result.
  • Ask Yourself and Your Spouse…What Can We Do To Show Our Kids That We Love Them? The kids are underfoot too. Their anxious and worried too, and when the two of you bicker and fight over nothing, you’re just adding to their misery.  They worried about coronavirus and the fact that their parents are on the verge of divorce.

Consider Online Couples Coaching

This would be a good time to talk with your partner about how you want to be with one another now that you’re all in plain sight. Maybe it’s time for some science-based online couples coaching.

What will your kids say 20 years from now? Will they say that their parents were on the verge of divorce… but got some help putting their marriage back together during the Great Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020?


Anderson J. The impact of family structure on the health of children: Effects of divorceLinacre Q. 2014;81(4):378–387. doi:10.1179/0024363914Z.00000000087

Brand JE, Moore R, Song X, Xie Y. Parental divorce is not uniformly disruptive to children’s educational attainment. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2019;116(15):7266-7271. doi:10.1073/pnas.1813049116

D’Onofrio B, Emery R. Parental divorce or separation and children’s mental healthWorld Psychiatry. 2019;18(1):100–101. doi:10.1002/wps.20590

Kleinsorge C, Covitz LM. Impact of divorce on children: developmental considerations. Pediatr Rev. 2012;33(4):147-54. doi:10.1542/pir.33-4-147

Rappaport SR. Deconstructing the Impact of Divorce on ChildrenFamily Law Quarterly. 2013;47(3):353-377.

Wallerstein J, Lewis J, Rosenthal SP. Mothers and their children after divorce: Report from a 25-year longitudinal studyPsychoanalytic Psychology. 2013;30(2):167-184. doi:10.1037/a0032511.

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Daniel Dashnaw

Daniel is a Marriage and Family Therapist and the blog editor. He currently works with couples online and in person. He uses EFT, Gottman Method, Solution-focused and Developmental Models in his approaches. Daniel specializes in working with neurodiverse couples, couples that are recovering from an affair, and couples struggling with conflict avoidant and passive aggressive behavior patterns.

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