News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

For Some Couples, Too Much Togetherness Can Lead To Divorce


Being cooped up at home with family members every day can lead to problems — or intensify existing ones. Some family attorneys say they've seen a spike in calls during the COVID-19 pandemic from people contemplating divorce.

Holly Rampy Baird, a family law attorney in North Texas, said a growing number of those calls are domestic abuse cases. Others are from people who had previously considered divorce. A similar thing happened in China as people sheltered at home.

“For some, the blemishes that they see, the problems that they see with their spouse, are really intensified and magnified when they are confined in a house together,” Baird said. “You know, they were on the fence and this has just been the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

The other issue includes couples who are co-parenting.

“Maybe they’re not used to parenting the kids 24-7 together; they do a little more tag team effort,” she said. “And so they’re seeing the parenting style of the other parent first hand and not real happy with that.”

Baird, who's a partner at the family law firm Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson, LLP, says the COVID-19 crisis has also resulted in an onslaught of disputes over child visitation and parenting plans. She’s seen conflicts arise over how to interpret those plans during a pandemic and whether a parent is making the right decision for their child’s well-being.

It’s not unusual to see a spike in divorce rates during stressful moment in history. But, Baird says, this particular crisis is unusual because there’s so much uncertainty.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen. We don’t know how long it’s going to last,” she said. “We have no idea what it’s going to look like once we get back to our ‘normal’ and I just think that’s a new type of stress that families haven’t experienced before.”

Baird offers this advice to couples who may be struggling with their marriage or family: Individuals and couples should seek counseling and therapy online or over the phone before making a major decision.

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.