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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

San Diego divorce attorneys see huge spike in cases amid pandemic

Is the pandemic pushing married couples apart? Local divorce attorneys report a huge increase in cases and offer reasons on what may be driving some to divorce.

SAN DIEGO — Divorce attorneys say COVID-19 is causing many couples to call it quits.

"We're swamped. We're seeing a lot more divorce cases. [The pandemic is] forcing people to be together, stay in the same house, stay in the same room when they used to be able to go to the office or visit friends,” said Senior Associate Attorney Sara Yunus for the Antonyan Miranda Law Firm.

With little ways of escape, Yunus said couples aren't stopping at just filing for divorce.

"We're seeing a lot of restraining orders as well. There's been a lot of restraining orders,” said Yunus, who is a certified family law specialist.

Family law attorney Anton Georghiou said he is seeing the same spike.

"I've probably seen a 50% jump in the terms of the number of clients that I'm taking on,” said Georghiou. 

What's driving people to divorce? Attorneys say finances, infidelity, and kids.

"Custody is also a big one because most children have not returned back to school,” Yunus said.

It's been case overload for many attorneys.

"Just this week I've done two restraining orders one on Monday and one on Wednesday,” Georghiou said.

Georghiou said with increased domestic violence cases during the pandemic, some are finding a faster workaround in the court system to get restraining orders filed immediately versus waiting nearly five weeks.

"Some people are using the domestic violence restraining order process in order to get themselves temporary custody orders which is not appropriate and against the law,” he said.

How soon can couples get divorced nowadays?

"You're not going to get a speedy divorce right now if you have to go to court. You're looking at a several-month delay," Yunus said.

Then how can couples realistically move out during a pandemic filled with job loss and shutdowns?

"I've seen people stay in a hotel for a few days just because they need that break," Yunus said.

Yunus said the legal process is so delayed that what used to take her one day in court can now take two-and-a-half-days in virtual court.

For those divorcing during the pandemic, attorneys suggest you have a good internet connection and be in an environment where a judge can hear you clearly.

“A lot of people are calling in from their bedrooms, from their vehicles, but be in a room where you are sitting and have a computer in front of you, and [make sure] that you can hear the judge. There have been a lot of technical issues,” Yunus said.