At the start of COVID-19 restrictions, relationship experts predicted that lockdown would result in a surge of breakups — and they appear to have been right.
According to support service, Relationships Australia, who released a survey on the effect of COVID-19 on cohabiters, 55 percent of people say they were challenged by their living arrangements during lockdown and 42 percent of people experienced a negative change in their relationship with their partner.
From China to Australia, countries have seen a spike in divorces filed since the coronavirus was declared a pandemic (in China, filings started rising in March as couples emerged from quarantine).
But, is now the time to be initiating such a big step? Or, should you put your split on ice during a global crisis? Before you pack a suitcase, here are some factors to consider:
IS IT THE COVID-EFFECT?
When you’re stuck with a partner (and possibly your children) for an unusual amount of time, it’s perfectly normal to see a rise in tension. Ask yourself: what was my relationship like pre-COVID and is our conflict circumstantial or a sign of a long-term issue? This is the perfect time to seek professional help, especially if you’re experiencing anxiety (check out the free COVID-19 resources available through Beyond Blue).
KNOW THE CHANGES
Clients have asked me if they can still get a divorce or commence proceedings during lockdown. Yes, you definitely can! But there are some changes to the process to consider. The Family Court of Australia (FCoA) and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (FCC) are increasing face-to-face hearings in a staggered way over the coming months commencing Monday, 15 June 2020. As I mentioned in a previous blog, the Courts now have a dedicated court list to deal exclusively with urgent parenting-related disputes arising due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
DISCUSS LIVING ARRANGEMENTS
In the heat of a breakup, it’s still important to be practical. During the pandemic, living arrangements can become complicated, especially if one (or both) of you have lost your income. If you’re worried about being left homeless, explore support services available, including the NSW Government’s Residential Tenancy Support Package and financial support for homeowners available through Australia’s big four banks.
NEVER DELAY SAFETY
If you feel under threat in your relationship or in your home, never postpone taking action. During COVID-19, the NSW Government has increased services available at the 24/7 NSW Domestic Violence Line (1800 656 463) and a range of other support initiatives. Need help as you assess your next step? Our one-on-one coaching sessions are designed to offer not only logistical but emotional support too.
Emergency Services – 000
1800RESPECT – 1800737732
Lifeline – 131114
Relationships Australia – 1300364277
Mens Referral Service – 1300766491
Kids Help Line – 1800551800
Aboriginal Family Domestic Violence Hotline – 1800019123
Suicide Call Back Service – 1300659467