According to 2019 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are more than 2,000 divorces each day. Experts predict the pandemic will increase those numbers.
Even with COVID-19 case numbers dropping nationwide, Barbara King, an attorney with Tully Rinckey, says there has been an increase in “phone calls and inquiries statewide” regarding divorces.
“I’m sort of getting a sense a lot of people are under financial pressure that they weren’t before, so there’s a new crack in the foundation, and sometimes that’s the problem,” King said. “People being home together and finding out that what they thought their partner had to offer, they didn’t, really.
“Usually, there’s a crack in the foundation; this is just exposing it maybe sooner.”
Sarah Lyman, a Capital Region native, and her sister Emily have been there for each other during the toughest of times. For Sarah, it was 2019.
“When I was getting divorced, it was my first marriage, my first divorce and I felt pretty lonely and confused,” said Lyman. “I spent a lot of time Googling, trying to figure out what to do next, and I just thought there’s got to be a better way.”
Three years later, she created PurplCouch, a holistic approach to taking on divorce.
“From legal to financial, tax, mental health to really sort of get the entire perspective of what’s going to be happening during this big life change,” said Lyman.
King said that her firm saw “a bit of an uptick” following the financial crisis of the late 2000s that led to many lost jobs.
“Again, it’s that crack in the foundation … that kind of gets exposed. We saw a lot after that.”
At times, it’s not even a marriage that falls apart. King said that, when she started her law career, people didn’t simply live together as much as they do now, or have kids out of wedlock as often.
“So a lot of what’s not getting tracked, if you’re just looking at divorce, is [that] non-married family units are falling apart, couples that have just lived together for 20 years and have kids together,” she said. “So we’re getting a lot of that, and that goes into Family Court as opposed to Supreme Court for divorce, so we’re seeing a lot of activity in the family courts.”
PurplCouch, the online, on-demand course, features experts in each field. It’s the first of its kind, looking to reshape the stigma that often surrounds separation.
“It’s hard, it’s emotional and it’s a rollercoaster and you will get through it,” said Lyman. “If you are an ally to someone who is on the divorce journey, it’s OK to talk to them about it.”