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The pandemic has kept divorce lawyers busy


Divorce, pandemic-style is becoming more as the virus crisis drags on and many couples find themselves spending a little too much time in close quarters.

The number of divorce cases has jumped by about 30% during the pandemic for veteran divorce lawyer Russell Alexander, who founded Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers.

Alexander just hired five more lawyers for his newest office location in Concord, Ont., to deal with the spike in divorce rates, and has updated the firm’s book, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Divorce , with pandemic information.

“Lots of studies are suggesting (the rate) is up,” said Alexander. “Especially studies out of the U.S. and overseas. I think the National Law Review in the United States has the number at a 34% increase.”

Here’s what Alexander had to say:

What is leading to so much divorce?

The pandemic is wearing everybody out. People are out of their routines. They’re not exercising. Their diets have changed. They may have kids schooling at home. Both spouses may be working from home. One or more spouses may have lost their job because of changes to the economy. So what would normally be a bump in the road of a relationship during the pandemic, everything is amplified. So that bump is now the cause of many people breaking up, unfortunately.

Do you have the latest divorce rates in Canada?

I don’t have the numbers for 2020, that data isn’t out. Generally the divorce rate for Canada is about 50-52%. How much higher can it go? Part of the problem we’re seeing is that in March and April 2020, we all went into lockdown and the courts effectively closed … So we have that now pent-up demand coming into the system.

Is there an advantage to the current Zoom-type approach to divorce proceedings?

We can set that meeting up in a few days whereas if we’re going to see a judge, it might be six months down the road and the case might not even be decided at that point. So it’s private, it’s faster, it’s less expensive and you get to participate in the decision-making process.

Given that, can we expect to see Zoom divorce proceedings continue once the pandemic is over?

I hope so in some respects. The convenience of doing a Zoom divorce or Zoom court hearing is fairly immense. So I think if we can take some of the efficiencies after the pandemic and keep it in place, it’s going to make the justice system a lot more efficient. Now there’s still going to be some requirement to attend court in person.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2021

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