Could “the great resignation” be accompanied by “the great separation”?
While there have been predictions aplenty of mass post-pandemic job walkouts, new research suggests COVID-19 may also leave a spate of relationship break-ups in its wake.
More than one in five couples have undergone strain as a result of lockdowns and other pressures inflicted by the pandemic, according to a national survey conducted for online platform amica.
A further eight per cent among more than 1000 respondents said their situation had caused them and their partner to consider separating.
Notably, the poll was taken in October with lockdowns in NSW, Victoria and the ACT still in place.
Some 37 per cent of NSW residents who took part reported experiencing a strained relationship or said they were considering separation as a result of lockdowns, closely followed by 32 per cent in Victoria.
Young couples fared worst, with 40 per cent of those aged 18-34 experiencing relationship stress compared to 28 per cent of 35- to 44-year-olds.
Those aged 45-54 scored 30 per cent and those 55 or over, 17 per cent.
Gabrielle Canny, who is a director at National Legal Aid and amica’s project chief, says the past two years have been extremely challenging for all Australians but more stressful for some than others.
“We anticipate there are tens of thousands of couples who have held things together as long as they can but now want to move on without becoming one of those bitter and expensive separation horror stories we so often hear about,” she said.
“The best piece of advice I can give to couples who feel their relationship has run its course is do your research and arm yourself with information before you arm yourself with a lawyer.”
Amica offers a separation app designed by family lawyers to help guide couples through the process as calmly and fairly as possible.
It is federal government-backed and free to use if one partner is receiving Centrelink support.
The service uses artificial intelligence to assess the length of relationships, assets and earnings, age and health needs, arrangements for taking care of children, and future needs.
Ms Canny said there were at least some positive findings among the research, with one in five respondents saying their relationship had improved during the pandemic and 48 per cent saying the virus had no impact.
“We also see that relationship stress is lower in those places that have avoided prolonged lockdowns such as South Australia where just one in 10 people say the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns have had a negative impact on their relationship,” she said.
“This gives hope to those in NSW, the ACT and Victoria for example that now lockdowns are lifted, your relationship could also improve and become stronger.”
Some 1009 people participated in the poll, with 731 of them either married, in a de facto relationship, engaged or in a relationship.