How Has COVID Effected Rochester Divorce Rates?


Divorce is a common occurrence across the nation, but since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, divorce rates in Rochester, New York have been on the rise. In fact, data collected by Legal Templates found that divorces in Rochester have risen 34% with 31% of couples saying that the 2020 lockdowns were the cause.

The Impact of COVID

COVID-19 has had a lasting impact on many things, some of which are surprising. For example, there are approximately three million people injured in auto accidents every year. However, despite the lockdowns, this number actually rose to 4.8 million in 2020. Similarly, the stress of the pandemic did little to bring people together, and instead caused a similar rise in divorce, breakups, and canceled weddings. East Rochester alone now has a divorce rate of 14.0% with 730 divorcees out of a population of 6,563.

What’s more, is that interest in divorce has also risen, even if couples have yet to go through with the actual process. Due to COVID regulations still being in place in many areas, this is no surprise since this can cause an already complicated process to be even more difficult, especially if there are children involved. Although 75% of children with divorced parents live primarily with their mothers, many in-person court custody cases have been put on hold or transferred online, making custody battles even more difficult and stressful. This means that it’s likely the spike in divorces isn’t finished peaking yet, as when regulations begin to loosen and the process opens back up, it’s likely that couples on the fence now will decide to take the plunge.

Recently Married Vs. Long-Term Couples

Another interesting point is that recently married couples were the most likely to divorce or consider divorce than those who had been married longer. Over 20% of those seeking a divorce in Rochester were couples that had wed only within the last five months. This is nearly double the amount from 2019, which highlights the impact that COVID has had especially.

Not Done Spiking

With the introduction of vaccines, the country is finally beginning to open up again, although there is still a long way to go. While this may provide the illusion that divorce rates are finished spiking, the truth is possibly much more complicated. Due to the setbacks caused by the Coronavirus, many couples who would seek divorce may be staying together for more practical reasons. For example, divorce can be expensive and with so many having lost income due to the pandemic, it may not be financially feasible yet. Especially for families who already struggled with low incomes before the pandemic. Similarly, families with children may find it easier to stay together for the sole purpose of not placing unvaccinated children in harm’s way by splitting their time between households. In many cases, a non-custodial parent will have 88 days with their child each year, but today this can be more precarious, especially if one parent has moved to another state or location where more cases may be present. This could open up the possibility for infection, something that is avoided if parents stay together in one place.

Because of all these factors, it’s worth considering that many couples may be waiting for a greater sense of normality to return before they decide to pursue a divorce, and that Rochester could see a further increase in rates as more people get vaccinated and regulations return to a semblance of what they were in 2019.

To keep up-to-date on Rochester, check out Rochesterlavoz, available in both Spanish and English.