Divorce attorney says COVID-19 has escalated bitterness, violence in marriages

Attorney Sabrina Shaheen Cronin whose firm specializes in divorce and family law says it started with fear, worried about coronavirus.

"It is the level of animosity, the hatred, the bitterness, the sheer violence that I've seen," she said. "Especially in front of the children, is what to me is the most surprising.

She says that worried about exposure, people were withholding children from the other parent and the state was forced to step in.

"There were specific orders from the state that you have to follow the strict guidelines of your parenting time schedule like the coronavirus didn't exist because so many people weren't doing it out of fear or control, or both," she said.

But as time went on that fear turned into anger. Cronin says over the last six weeks she has seen a spike in the messiest and highest conflict divorces she has ever handled.

"I have seen such an increase in domestic issues whether it is divorce, whether it is violence," she said. "I have seen a lot of assaultive cases. Unfortunately, when a lot of people when they are pushed against the wall, they react. Emotions are flaring not because of stress when you are stuck in a home together and you don't have a good relationship to begin with - you can't escape to work."

The down economy is also leading to money manipulation by spouses, who are trying not to pay as much to their ex.

Courts were forced to prioritize cases virtually with the Stay at Home Order, but now that things are slowly starting to reopen, Cronin says broken couples aren't putting it off any longer.

"It is so much better to be reasonable," she said. "Try not to react with emotion. Try to be thoughtful and reasonable with the approach - especially when children are involved."

Cronin also added that if it is getting tough to be stuck at home right now, try to physically separate yourself from this person as much as possible. Of course if you fear for your safety you should call police.

She says if you are looking to file for divorce don’t wait. Call a seasoned lawyer that has compassion that you feel free asking plenty of questions. Because of the coronavirus, expect the process to take a little longer than usual.