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Divorce rates have increased significantly since the end of lockdown

Since the end of the lockdown that was imposed during the first wave of the novel coronavirus pandemic in Belgium, the country’s notaries have seen a spectacular rise in the number of couples filing for divorce. During the latter half of May 2020 the number of divorce applications was 25% higher than during the same period last year. Bart Van Opstal of the Notaries’ Federation told VRT News that the lockdown was often the final straw for couples that already had relationship issues.

During the lockdown itself (18 March to 4 May) there was a big fall in the number of couples seeking a divorce.

However, this doesn’t mean that there were fewer relationship issues during this period. It was just more difficult to file for a divorce and to go and sign the necessary paperwork at the notary’s office.

Once the lockdown was over notaries suddenly started to get many more divorce applications. During the second half of May 25% more people filed for divorce than was the case during the same period last year. The trend, albeit less pronounced continued into June when there were 19.3% more divorces than in June 2019. In July the increase was 13.2% compared with July 2019.

For many couples the lockdown tested their relationship. For some of those that already had issues it proved to be the final straw.

Mr Van Opstal told VRT News “In marriages where there was already tensions, these tensions often increased still further during lockdown. Many decided that they couldn’t go on like this and once lockdown was over they went to a notary and filed for divorce”.

Mr Van Opstal adds that he expects the number of divorces to remain higher than normal during the coming months.

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