A local divorce lawyer shares his experience of the Covid-19 lockdown

"Divorce, like marriage, is not something to be entered into lightly."
"Divorce, like marriage, is not something to be entered into lightly."

Lawyers are reporting an increase in divorce applications now that the lockdown regulations have lifted somewhat and it's easier to apply.

ALSO READ | Are lockdown divorce applications on the rise? It looks like it 

Parent24 spoke to Shando Theron, a senior partner at Theron Inc, specialist divorce and matrimonial attorneys in Johannesburg, to find out more about why this is and how the lockdown has impacted families across South Africa. 

Theron tells us that he is often asked about the main cause of divorce. His response is: "Marriage".

On a more serious note, he says he has found that in a relationship, there are spoken and unspoken rules

"Over time, as people change and grow, often the unspoken rules - and sometimes even the spoken rules - change," he explains. 

If both parties fail to recognise and acknowledge these changes, he says, this will inevitably lead to each of the parties becoming isolated and feeling that their physical and emotional needs are not being met.

ALSO READ | #DignifiedDivorce: Everything you need to know about divorce 

Accelerated issues

This separation and the feeling of "drifting apart" often leads to unhappiness and a breach of trust by one of the parties.

He told Parent24 that the questions he is asked most often these days are: "Has the divorce rate spiked during the lockdown?" and, "What are the reasons for divorce during this time?" 

"What I have experienced in my practice is that the present conditions have accelerated issues that were already putting stress on a relationship," Theron reveals. 

"For instance, in practical terms, as people are spending more time under the same roof, one partner may notice how much time their partner is spending on social media and upon further investigation, may confirm their suspicions about the illicit nature of the communication," he says. 

A marked increase

Theron has seen a marked increase in first consultations - when people want to consider their options about whether or not they should proceed with a divorce - based on the kind of scenario above.

Some decide to proceed. 

"Any good divorce attorney will always (in the absence of addiction or violence) investigate if there truly has been an irretrievable breakdown of a marriage, or if the parties are just experiencing a rocky patch, as all relationships do from time to time," Theron assures us. 

In such cases, counselling and therapy may very well get the marriage back on track. He says that "on numerous occasions, this has produced good results and I have assisted the parties to re-establish the spoken and unspoken rules of their relationship."

Put in the work

Divorce, like marriage, is not something to be entered into lightly. If the trust has been broken, it can be repaired, provided both parties are willing to put in the work.

"However, I have found that should one of the parties have lost their respect for the other party, then generally, neither trust nor love comes back," Theron warns.

Covid-19 has caused many of us to rethink our lives and priorities, but out of uncertain times often comes learning, and this is as good a time as ever to re-evaluate your relationship, identify its weaknesses, and work on strengthening it.

"You did not get married to get divorced," Theron says, "so before you decide to pack it in, why not give it another go and seek the requisite help if needed?" 

Has the lockdown destroyed your marriage? Read here to find out what to do next

- Compiled by Elizabeth Mamacos


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