Graham Kilmer

Will Pandemic Lead to a Surge in Divorces?

Wisconsin Legal Bank sees a surge in sales of divorce papers.

By - May 3rd, 2020 10:53 am
Milwaukee County Courthouse

Milwaukee County Courthouse. Photo by Jeramey Jannene

Stuck together in isolation, a pandemic ravaging the world outside, nowhere to go. Is this all too common scenario destroying marriages right now? At least one individual directly involved in the field thinks so.

Rick Russell is the owner and operator of Wisconsin Legal Blank. The business prints and sells legal forms, everything from divorce to power of attorney.

And according to Russell, sales of his divorce kits are through the roof right now. The business has seen its sales of the kits increase by 65 percent.

“I feel that it’s from the pandemic,” Russell said. “Obviously couples are under a lot of stress.”

Financial stress is already a leading cause of divorce. And with mass layoffs, Russell said he thinks this could be contributing to the rising sales he’s seeing.

There could be another factor, the effective closure of the court system across the state. Courthouses provide divorce forms during normal times.

But, the sharp increase in sales, he thinks, wouldn’t be caused simply by the closure of the courthouse.

Maybe, spending 24 hours a day together has some couples thinking. “It wasn’t what they signed up for,” Russell said. They’re learning more about each other. “Probably a little bit too much about each other.”

Russell isn’t just seeing sales of his divorce forms, he’s also seeing an increased sale of forms to establish a will or assign power of attorney. The increased sales of these two forms, and the actions they authorize, would make sense in a time when people are increasingly confronting their own mortality, Russell said.

The pandemic has a monopoly on the minds of many people. “You can turn on any media outlet and that’s all they’re talking about,” Russell said. He believes his customers are coming to him thinking, “I better have my affairs in order.”

The customers coming to Wisconsin Legal Blank as of late and buying forms for a Will are also often purchasing forms for power of attorney. To Russell, this means that the sales must be connected to the pandemic. People worried about ending up on a ventilator, or in a coma, and not having a plan.

“I’ll be happy when this is behind us,” Russell said.

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