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Couples Divided and Divorcing Over Pandemic Safety


Differences of opinion are a reality in every marriage, but our New Jersey divorce lawyers are seeing growing relationship divisions with the pandemic as a primary fault line. In these cases, one spouse takes public health recommendations (mask-wearing, social-distancing, avoiding large gatherings, etc.) very seriously, while the other views such measures as excessive.

USA Today recently chronicled this COVID-19 conflict phenomenon, cited in divorces across the country. Although there are no absolutes, the trend does seem more frequently to involve older couples, with women being more fastidious in their health practices. While political divides over the pandemic are well-documented, it appears there are sharp gender divides as well. This is likely what we’re seeing in the breakdown of some of these marriages.

TheU.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reported that the higher risk of COVID-19 illness and death among men had much to do with them being more likely to downplay the severity of the risk and attend large gatherings while being less likely to wash hands, wear masks, social distance or proactively seek medical care. Women are reportedly 15 percent more likely to wear masks than men.

Our East Brunswickdivorce attorneys recognize that lifestyle and health choices have always been a potential flashpoint in many relationships. The difference is that in a pandemic, those choices affect everyone else in the household – and with potentially deadly consequences – especially for those with underlying conditions. Among younger couples with children, mothers may feel the greater weight of the workload for keeping the family safe. On top of all this, things that previously would have required little discussion (“Should our child use a public restroom?” “Should we send the kids to in-person schooling?” “Can we have the neighbors over for a barbeque this weekend?”) are suddenly a source of tension and require extensive negotiation and compromise.

In oneanalysis, 40 percent of mothers surveyed said they had experienced marked increased frustrations with their partner over pandemic-related issues. Such stresses were twice as likely among mothers whose spouses weren’t as supportive of the health safety measures they were taking. In some situations, women described attempts to make informed health choices for the family while their husbands accuse them of an overly-emotional response.

This is beyond the initial frustrations and chaos of early lockdowns and more about how to approach the drudgery of this “new normal” – particularly when the pair of you are divided about whether anything has changed.

One of the cases detailed by USA Today reporters involved a 68-year-old retired attorney with a chronic lung disease who is a militant mask-wearer practicing strict social distancing. She says her 71-year-old husband of more than 45 years refuses to wear a mask or keep to small gatherings. Divorce is likely on the horizon. It’s not just that they disagree, but that she doesn’t feel safe in her own home and said her husband refuses to acknowledge her concerns or take steps that would allow her to feel safe.

If you and your spouse cannot see eye-to-eye on this issue, and it is causing a severe strain on your relationship we are available to discuss your options and can help you navigate your next steps.

Call Rozin|Golinder Law, LLC today at (732) 810-0034 for a free and confidential consultation.

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