Why are more Bay Area couples seeking divorce? Attorneys say COVID-19 shelter orders may be to blame

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- With so much else going on right now due to coronavirus pandemic, it seems the one thing we don't need is a rising divorce rate which is already approaching 50%.

Now, some Bay Area attorneys say that number is about to go higher as shelter orders appear to have triggered a surge in calls to divorce lawyers.

Walnut Creek Family Law Attorney Joe Wolch says not only are more people calling to ask about divorce, but many are also ready to file - immediately.

"I would say the phone is ringing much more," said Wolch. "Where they used to be able to get away from each other, during the days or in the evenings with their extracurriculars, but now they haven't had the opportunity. So now people are more acutely aware that they just can't stay together."

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Some sites report online searches for divorce-related information have increased by more than 30% since March.

Bay Area attorneys have also seen an increase in cases involving domestic violence.

"It's much more serious when you're dealing with potential child custody or visitation issues or safety issues, whether it's the spouse or the spouse and the children," explained Elaine Le, a family attorney with San Jose's Hoover Krepelka LLP.

Another factor during this deepening coronavirus pandemic, people are becoming even more aware that life is short.

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"Life might be too short to be too unhappy for too long," said Wolch. "So they're looking for options to make their life better, maybe their children's lives better and overall move forward."

That said, some unhappy couples may decide to stick together amid all the economic uncertainty, because getting a divorce doesn't come cheap.

Divorce attorney fees can run from $400 to $600 per hour.

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