Original Article: By Caitlin RandleMRT.com/Midland Reporter-Telegram |  Updated 

A Midland family law attorney said his office has been “very busy” with divorce proceedings since the coronavirus pandemic began, and a family counselor said she’s had an increase in people seeking marriage counseling.

The couples who see Kristi Edwards, a licensed counselor and executive director of Centers, don’t necessarily have relationships that are falling apart, she said. But they are looking for help reconnecting with why they got married to begin with.

“We no longer have any breaks in our day that remind us of who we are as a professional or as a person,” Edwards said. “Forever, we have told people when you walk in the door from work, you have to take off one hat and put on another. Those lines are blurred.”

Those working remotely during the pandemic may feel like they must be “on for work all the time” and not separating work stress from their home lives, she said. And having a workstation at home, as many have set up since the pandemic began, may cause people to work more than usual, taking away attention from their spouses and families.

Edwards recommended setting boundaries between work and home life by creating a schedule that would match the hours you’d normally spend in the office. She said waking up at the same time, having meals and taking breaks at the same time, and then stopping work at the same time and spending the remainder of the day with family will help create that boundary.

Combatting any feelings of depression or anxiety a person may be feeling at the individual level will also help their relationships, Edwards said. She recommended people eat healthy, exercise and continue the hobbies they enjoyed before the pandemic.

“You have to eat healthy, you have to get exercise, you have to do the recreational kind of things that you enjoy, because that’s the only thing that’s going to give you the sense of normalcy you had prior to that,” she said.

Creating a space within your home where you can get solitude and recharge for about 30 minutes a day will also help lessen the strain that constant time together can put on marriages, Edwards said.

But taking these steps may not be enough for marriages that were in trouble before coronavirus. Edwards said in cases where couples already felt as if they no longer enjoyed time together or had common interests, the pandemic will exacerbate those issues.

“And it’s not just divorces; it’s child custody matters,” he said.

But despite an increase in family law cases, there hasn’t been a noticeable backlog in moving those cases through the court system, Moravcik said. He said a smooth transition to holding hearings through online platforms has allowed family cases to continue forward.

“There are some exceptions, but I’d say 90 percent of the hearings are held on Zoom,” he said. “And the courts and attorneys appear to have made a real good adjustment in that regard, in learning the hardware and software. It’s working out pretty good.”