Corona quarantine raises specter of increase in divorces

Clayton Coates, Editor

A nurse returns home after a long shift of caring for COVID-19 patients, only to find out their ex-partner is filing for custody for endangering their child.

These uncertain times of high unemployment rates, economic volatility, and time in quarantine, may have more undesirable outcomes than we thought.

Child Protective Service advocate Nikki Jones says it also involves child abuse and neglect, which ties directly into domestic violence.

“CPS I have seen an increase in domestic violence reports coming in,” Jones said. “I’ve been helping with personal protection orders and on average I’ve been helping between three to five a week, when before it was maybe one or two a week.”

Reno divorce attorney Jessica Anderson attended law school at the University of San Francisco and has been practicing for 18 years. She believes that any vulnerabilities within a marriage can be exposed during times of stress.

“I think that as soon as the quarantine is over that we’ll probably get a pretty big influx in divorce cases,” Anderson said. “Assuming we don’t hit a huge recession.”

According to a study by Philip N. Cohen found in the National Library of Medicine, “Results show a downward spike in the divorce rate after 2008, almost recovering to the expected level by 2011, which suggests a negative recession effect.” People cannot afford to get divorced when still paying a mortgage while unemployed.

“I have seen a lot of post-divorce litigation regarding custody,” Anderson said. “People that are already divorced but they’re having trouble deciding who gets the child during quarantine.”

Many parents are taking the governor’s stay-at-home order as an indication that they do not have to exchange their child for visitation purposes.

“I had a case with a former client, and she just recently lost her job,” Anderson said. “So she was having a hard time figuring out how she would come up with the money to retain me, but her ex-husband had filed an emergency motion to suspend her visitation rights because he could tell from her social media that she was not sheltering in place and he said that that was putting the child at risk.”

Jan Budetti, a licensed clinical social worker with 30 years in the field, views quarantine as a shock to the system.

“Fear starts to rise in terms of the unknown, that is what’s impacting my clients the most,” Budetti said. “In filling in that gap, their projection towards the future is kind of bleak, which then results in sometimes a very depressed mood.”

People are trying to maintain the norm when the norm just is not there anymore.

“I try and have people look at their ability to empower themselves,” Budetti said. “I think this is a period of personal reflection. We have been so busy running away from that with our daily schedules that the virus has given us an opportunity to make a checklist of what we wanted change within ourselves.

“I think quarantine wipes the slate clean to look at a new beginning of how people want to live their life. A little bit less of the extraneous possessions that really are not necessary, but to look at what do we have in terms of family, friends and the things we let go by the wayside.”

Domestic violence resources:

Anderson’s firm (Anderson Keuscher PLLC) is providing free consultations for anyone in need of legal advice addressing domestic abuse situation. – 775-823-0049, https://www.andersonkeuscher.com/

Safe Embrace Domestic – 775-322-3466, http://www.safeembrace.org/

Domestic Violence Resource Center – 775-329-4150, https://domesticviolenceresourcecenter.org/

Human Services Agency – 775-337-4468, https://www.washoecounty.us/hsa/childrens_services/child_protective_services/Child%20Protective%20Service%20FAQs/faq_1u%20What%20is%20a%20Court%20Appointed%20Special%20Advocate.php