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Coronavirus: Okanagan divorce professionals say separations on the rise amid pandemic

Click to play video 'Divorce professionals say divorce on the rise amid pandemic' Divorce professionals say divorce on the rise amid pandemic
Divorce professionals say divorce on the rise amid pandemic – Nov 19, 2020

An Okanagan divorce lawyer says his phone has been ringing off the hook.

“I’m easily tripling the amount of phone calls per week since last year,” said William Clarke.

“There’s definitely been an uptick since September for the rise in divorces and fighting about custody in the Central Okanagan.”

Quarantines, layoffs, working from home, and homeschooling are all things Canadian families have had to juggle during the pandemic.

All of them have added stress and pressure to an already stressful time.

Marriages are being tested now more than ever before.

Read more: B.C. reports 765 new COVID-19 cases, one new death

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“(Some) can’t handle the situation anymore, the tension is too great, the stress is too much,” said Clarke.

“I direct them to counsellors in the area but sometimes it’s too late, too much water under the bridge.”

Clarke says there are many reasons why marriages are failing right now, but he cites one issue as the root for many divorces during the pandemic.

“The reasons have been a little bit more on the domestic violence side, and that’s usually accompanied with increased alcohol use, increased drug use and an inability to communicate,” Clarke told Global News on Thursday.

With cases on the rise and more restrictions being imposed, coupled with the emphasis on staying home, Clarke says the next year may be extremely dark for struggling marriages.

“It can only get worse, the more you cloister people together and the lack of the ability for them to communicate, the greater the friction becomes,” said Clarke

“Then they’re going to rely on drug or alcohol to cope which will then increase the problems even more.”

Read more: B.C. to require masks in indoor, public places and extend ban on social gatherings province-wide

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Cindy Stibbard, a divorce coach in the Lower Mainland, said she’s also had a major uptick in business since the pandemic began.

“I’ve received hundreds of more calls than I would have prior to the pandemic,” said Stibbard.

Stibbard says wealthier couples are also struggling because they’re not used to spending so much time together. 

“They’re so used to having such distraction in their marriage like travel and social events,” said Stibbard.

“Now with that not available and having a spouse that’s home all the time, the holes in the relationships have really started to show themselves.”

As the end of the pandemic is nowhere in sight and more COVID-19 cases starting to mount within our province, marriages will be tested even further.

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The impacts of COVID-19 on weddings, marriage and divorce – Aug 24, 2020