Following months of quarantine and isolation amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s divorce rate is set to soar.
That’s the prediction of leading Toronto family lawyer, Barry Nussbaum of Nussbaum Family Law, who says his firm is experiencing a 20 per cent increase in inquiries from people looking to split from their spouses compared to before the coronavirus outbreak.
“Canada seems to be following the same trend as other countries, such as China and Italy, that saw a spike in broken marriages once COVID-19 restrictions were lifted,” Nussbaum said, forecasting that Canada’s current 38 per cent divorce rate will reach a record high this year.
“We’re getting daily calls from people who aren’t used to having their spouse around 24-7, saying they’ve ‘had it’ and ‘want out’ of their marriage immediately,” Nussbaum explained, adding that couples already dealing with marital issues when the lockdown began have seen tensions boil to the surface after being cooped up together.
The pandemic has also caused conflict in Canadian marriages due to financial stress, boredom, lack of alone time and space to pursue personal interests, and conflicts regarding kids and household responsibilities, he said.
Advice for Canadian Marriages Facing Divorce
With delays expected as backlogged courts start reopening, Nussbaum warns couples on the edge to proceed with caution as they wait for their divorce proceedings. He offers this advice in the meantime:
Get legal advice: No matter how desperate you feel, don’t do anything without first speaking with a lawyer, Nussbaum emphasizes. Taking the law into your own hands can be risky, as one wrong move may hurt your case and negatively impact your future, from custody and parenting roles to financial obligations.
Stay put: Even if you can’t take being with your spouse for a second longer and think moving into your parents’ house with your kids would be best for everyone all around, resist the urge. Leaving the marital home comes with serious consequences, including affecting your custody rights and interest in the property.
Focus on finances: The courts will need to see all your financial information, so take time now to collect and organize it. This includes pay stubs, financial statements, tax returns and assessments for the last three years, and documents supporting debts and loans. Having a clear picture of what you own and owe as a couple will help you get your fair share when marital assets and debts are distributed.
Start the process: Once the floodgate of divorce cases eases up, things will move quickly, so it’s best to be proactive. Start working on your divorce application now with the help of an experienced lawyer. Getting legal counsel is key as every case is unique and couples who try to navigate the complex legal system on their own may find their court applications rejected, adding complications to an already stressful situation.
More information and a free downloadable legal guide to divorce can be found at www.nussbaumlaw.ca.
Barry Nussbaum is Senior Lawyer at Nussbaum Law, a Toronto-based law firm dedicated exclusively to family law, with extensive experience in litigating cases in both the Superior Court and Ontario Court of Justice. The firm’s legal staff is committed to providing a personal approach to all clients and taking time to understand that each family situation is unique and has its own set of family values. www.nussbaumlaw.ca