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Divorces spiked in Pennsylvania in 2021. Here’s why

On Behalf of | Oct 1, 2021 | Divorce

Though the vaccines have helped, most parts of the U.S. remain affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, in many ways, 2021 has been closer to normal life than 2020 was. Restaurants, shops and government offices have reopened for the most part.

People in King of Prussia and the rest of the Philadelphia area have begun socializing and traveling again. After more than a year of being largely trapped at home, many people feel like they are making up for lost time. It appears that includes unhappily married Pennsylvanians who are heading for divorce court.

Reversing recent trends

Like in most states, the divorce rate has been dropping in Pennsylvania for years. Last year, there were just under 29,000 divorce and annulment filings in the commonwealth, a 12 percent drop from 2019. But while some of the decrease was due to recent trends, a lot of it was likely caused by courthouses and family law offices going under lockdown. With the world mostly shut down and the future so uncertain, many people stuck in troubled marriages chose to keep things the way they are. Had the pandemic not happened, most of those couples would probably have gotten divorced, or at least be well into the process by now.

The official numbers for 2021 are not in yet. But marriage counselors throughout Pennsylvania told FOX 43 in Harrisburg that they are seeing more clients than they can handle these days. They admit that many of their clients are ending up filing for divorce.

Delaying — and causing — divorce at the same time

Besides forcing people to wait to get divorced, the pandemic might have itself caused many divorce filings. Being stuck at home together virtually 24/7 probably brought a lot of married couples closer together. But in other cases, it no doubt exposed problems in the relationship that neither side could ignore any longer.