How has COVID-19 Affected Divorce in Elk River, and the rest of the state?

Covid-19 and Divorce are topics that have become very familiar in the past few months in Minnesota and globally. University of Washington associate sociology professor Julie Brines, and doctoral candidate Brian Serafini, examined divorce rates in Washington for 14-years. Between the years of 2001 and 2015, divorce rates were much higher in March and August. Their theory is that couples who are experiencing marital strife count on holidays and vacations to reunite them. When these times of family togetherness don’t live up to expectations, they are ready to file divorce papers. [1]

Beyond Minnesota-An Increase in the Global Divorce Rate

Often, all of that family togetherness puts a strain on a marriage, as well. Globally, courts are seeing an increase in people petitioning for Divorce during the pandemic. Underlying conflicts can emerge when couples are together in close proximity for long periods of time. When people who once had busy lives and a stable routine try to adjust to this new way of life, they often become anxious and moody.

Internet searches for information on Divorce on these sites went up 32 percent from March to May, compared to a 6 percent decline during the same period last year. Searches for information about divorcing in New York were up 30 percent.[2] This increase in inquiries about Divorce and divorce filings isn’t just limited to New York City and China[3], Countries around the world and nationally in the U.S. are seeing the same trends.

What is Contributing to Marital Strife & Divorce?

These are just a few factors that may contribute to added stress in an already difficult marriage:

  •         Lack of Freedom/Stuck at home 24/7
  •         Kids being home 24/7
  •         Unemployment
  •         Financial stress
  •         Health fears
  •         Living in a polarized society
  •         Depression

Mental Health Challenges

Mental illness can take a toll on a marriage. This new way of life is another burden on families living with a mental illness. Mental health issues don’t take a break for a pandemic. The problems added to our lives by COVID-19, combined with mental health issues and marital tension, can be even more difficult for spouses in self-isolation.

Domestic Violence

Experts predict that along with higher divorce rates during the pandemic, filings featuring domestic abuse will also be higher than usual. Domestic violence is a serious legal, cultural, and social problem. There is no stereotypical abuser or victim. It touches the lives of people from all walks of life, regardless of income, status, or race. Shelter-in-place orders keep an abuser and a victim together in the home by government mandate, increasing the opportunity for abuse. During shelter-in-place, the abused partner can’t even escape to the comfort of friends and family. Thankfully, the courts are prioritizing abuse cases as a priority based on safety factors.

COVID-19 Financial Factors

COVID-19 has sparked a significant economic downturn. High unemployment rates and loss of business for business owners add marital tension. Some people think this economic downturn is an excellent reason for wealthy spouses to seek Divorce setting off a wave of high-net-worth divorces. For the spouse that usually earns the higher income, their net worth reaching a new low could help them avoid a larger settlement.

When navigating conflict and strains on family relationships, people often turn to their friends and broader communities for help. Because of social distancing measures, most people are isolated from their typical support systems. They no longer have access to many of their regular coping mechanisms, such as socializing, working out at the gym, and eating out.  Other means of connecting with people, like video calls, text messaging, and social media

Marriage is hard. With COVID-19, it’s even harder. 

What about Divorce in Minnesota?

Tracking COVID-19 divorces during the pandemic is complicated because, in many Minnesota counties, the courts have been closed, and not all accept electronic filings. Those that do often limit divorce filings to emergencies.

When we are talking about COVID-19 and Divorce in MN, Minnesota’s divorce laws are “no-fault.” Neither party needs to prove that the other is at fault, to have a fair divorce. The only thing necessary for a divorce is to show that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage relationship. That means that the couple is past the point of no return. They have no hope of reconciling. This citation is true even if one spouse doesn’t want a divorce because the other does.

How do I get Divorced During COVID-19 in Minnesota?

To file for a divorce in Minnesota, you need to be a resident of Minnesota for 180 days (six months) prior. Members of the U.S. Armed Forces qualify as long as they have kept Minnesota as their residence. Courts are open, and you can get divorced during COVID-19 but they are limiting who can go to the courts in person. Courts are hearing many cases using video technology. So, it is best to call first to confirm that you should go.

Divorce & COVID-19 can be complicated and painful for all parties involved. It is best to have an experienced team of divorce lawyers on your side. If you are considering a divorce, contact us today for a free consultation.


[1] Bach, Deborah. “Is Divorce Seasonal? UW Research Shows Biannual Spike in Divorce Filings.” UW News, University of Washington, 21 Aug. 2016,

[2] Lee, Vivian. “Has the Coronavirus Pandemic Created a Spike in Divorces?” Spectrum News NY1, 27 June 2020, 2:47,

[3] Prasso, Sheridan. “Divorce Rate After Coronavirus Quarantine in China Is Warning.”, Bloomberg, 31 Mar. 2020,

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