Shelby County sees more divorces during coronavirus pandemic

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Local health leaders said they are noticing an increase of divorce filings as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Health experts said the pandemic is taking its toll. They said COVID-19 is impacting our physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

“Our divorce filings have increased significantly in Shelby County as well,” Dr. Alisa Haushalter, the Shelby County Health Department Director, said. “So I do think that the impact from the pandemic everything from the financial stress to the overall emotional stress or fear of people being confined so smaller spaces has impact a lot of things.”

Local divorce attorneys said at the beginning of the pandemic that fear and uncertainty actually brought people closer. But over time, people adjusted to the new normal and now divorce rates are on the rise.

“When people are afraid, they cling together, and when they cling together, they don’t get divorced,” Larry Rice, an attorney, said. “Now they’ve normalized, and so we’re back to the normal divorce rate. But we’ve got all those people who didn’t get divorced because they were afraid with the COVID, and so we’ve got them on top of the normal rate.”

Rice said the increase is not solely tied to the pandemic, as people have their own reasons for no longer wanting to be married. But pandemic or not, he encourages exhausting all avenues before divorce.

“At some point, down the road, late at night, you’ll be wondering, did I do what I needed to do to keep that marriage together, and if you went to counseling you can go I tried everything I could. I even went to counseling,” Rice said.

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