COLORADO SPRINGS — Coronavirus lockdowns, money problems, unemployment and illness are some of the factors leading to divorces and family turmoil during this difficult year. News5 spoke with a local counselor and legal expert about what's going on and how they hope people can rebound from the challenges at home.
Several months into the impact of COVID-19 some families are exhausted, frustrated, and they're annoyed with each other. Local counselors are trying to calm the storm and to prevent families from being torn apart by divorce.
Recent studies revealed the pandemic and lockdowns are contributing to a surge in divorce filings across the country. One study showed an increase of 34% in the number of divorce filings compared to last year and the increase in divorce rates started just three weeks into the coronavirus lockdowns. Local attorney Stephen Longo says he's seeing it in southern Colorado.
"We're seeing a lot more people on the phone calling us telling us they're thinking about getting a divorce and asking do I need a lawyer? What are we going to do? Those sorts of things," said Longo who runs The Longo Firm.
Longo is urging couples to see if they can work things out first because the legal process during COVID-19 restrictions can be drawn out and difficult.
"Most divorces we see are usually very contentious," said Longo. "Those hearings are happening but things are delayed and they're taking longer."
This year Dr. Mark Mayfield says he's seen the stress in many relationships boil over.
"When you're quarantined or under the same roof or those kinds of things you can't get away from that and so it's almost like you are faced with your problems now in a way that you have two options, either I become honest and vulnerable and I want to work on my stuff or I run," said Mayfield, the founder and CEO of Mayfield Counseling Centers. "I know that's really not pulling any punches with that statement, but that's basically what it is."
Some advice experts offer couples to help their relationships right now include:
- Actively work on effective communication
- Attribute problems to the pandemic, not each other
- Try to do positive things together
"And then realize it's a journey. It's not going to get fixed overnight," said Mayfield. "It took you 5, 10, 15, 23, whatever, years to get to this point, and now you recognize you've got a problem."
With kids doing virtual learning and many parents still working remotely, it's a lot of time together in close spaces. The pandemic stress goes beyond just couples, but can also lead to family burnout as well.
"I can't imagine the impact of divorce would have on kids as well on top of everything else," said Longo. "Again, sometimes it's going to be the right thing to do and that's on a case-by-case basis, but at the end of the day, you need to exhaust every remedy you have. Counseling workshops whatever, I think it's always worth it before you take that final step because, at the end of the day, it's final."
If your family could use some help right now to manage the stress at home you can always reach out to the experts at Mayfield Counseling Centers by visiting https://mayfieldcounseling.com/ or calling (719) 452-4803.
If you have questions or would like to seek legal advice you can contact Stephen Longo by visiting https://www.thelongofirm.com/ or calling (719) 249-1688.