Rising post-pandemic stress levels, heightened tension on the home front and lowering of tolerance for many amid anxiety and uncertainty are leading to an explosion in the number of divorce cases among working professionals in the country, according to lawyers and mental health experts ET spoke to. There is a 50-60% increase in divorce cases over the past year, according to lawyers and legal advice firms.
“Before the pandemic, people went with the flow of life and many didn’t really think about what really made them happy…the pandemic has changed people’s perspective on life,” says Archana Bisht, director of the company mental health 1to1help.net.
“The realization that life is short and unpredictable makes people more self-aware and focuses on self-preservation, prompting many to go their own way and follow their individual goals, leading to an increase alarming rate of mutual divorces and separations, especially since the second wave of the pandemic,” adds Bisht, who says the main reason people seek counseling these days is marital discord.
Ishika Tolani, a practicing lawyer at Mumbai Family Court, says she is witnessing a huge increase in the number of professionals filing for divorce with the main reasons being incompatibility, lack of shared interest, lack of communication and lower tolerance levels.
Tolani has seen a 50% increase in divorce filings over the past year. “We have seen an increase in dependency, infidelity or cheating and lack of physical intimacy among couples as the main reasons for filing for divorce,” she says. Such problems persisted even earlier, but now it is more glaring, she adds.
“Professionals, especially those with long working hours, spend a lot of time with colleagues and clients, many end up with broken homes as they engage with colleagues or friends they are doing along the way,” said Sameer Tapia, Founder of ALMT Legal.
Mental health experts say they too are inundated with cases of marital discord and serious relationship disharmony with an increase in couples therapy cases.
Amit Malik, founder and CEO of InnerHour, says the pandemic has changed role expectations between partners and shown that responsibilities, such as household chores, are not gendered. “The past two years have been difficult for many – working from home, lack of private space and uncertainty around the pandemic have brought frequent tension. Many who have been caught up in unhealthy relationships have started to have more disagreements and arguments and even domestic violence,” says Malik.
There’s also a 30-40% increase in mental health issues post-pandemic, making it even harder for people to compromise in a relationship. Plus, there’s a growing number of women with financial freedom who don’t want to get stuck in abusive and unhappy marriages, Malik says.
Law firm management startup Legalkart saw the number of separation and divorce related queries increase by around 25% between January and May this year compared to a year ago. There were approximately 17,000 requests for such legal assistance on the platform between January and May, of which 38% were from women and 62% from men.
“There is an increase in cases of divorce by mutual consent instead of contested divorce, mainly due to the awareness of the legal procedures, the cost and the time that can go in a contested divorce”, explains Arvind Singhatiya, founder and CEO of LegalKart.
That aside, the stigma surrounding divorce has diminished and accessibility to joint conversation and therapists has increased. Many couples are also asking for a mutual separation, says Priyanka Sinha, a partner at law firm A&P Partners.