The crucible of COVID drew many couples together.
Spending much more time than usual together, sharing parenting and household and professional duties like never before, they found strength and bonds that may have frayed over the years.
But the pandemic also caused many marriages to founder.
Stuck at home, without the usual distractions of offices and friends, some couples grew apart. Partners magnified their spouses’ flaws — real or imagined. Add in kid issues, mental health challenges and more, and the stresses mounted.
Maybe they had talked about divorce before the virus. Maybe not.
Either way, Carole Orland says, they’re talking about it now.
She should know. A partner at Westport-based Broder Orland Murray & DeMattie, she — and the firm — specialize in family law.
Which often means “divorce.”
It sounds like a difficult specialty. But, the Worcester native and longtime Westport resident says, it is “an opportunity to help people who are in a bad way. It’s rewarding to see the process. By the end they feel better about themselves and their circumstances. They’re ready for their lives to really take off.”
Orland also likes the chance to be involved in other areas of law, like trusts and estates, and torts. She has a wide range of clients — in finance, business, sports, entertainment and blue-collar jobs — and learns something new in every case.
She learns about law. And she learns about human nature.
Is it depressing?
“That’s not the right word,” she counters. “It’s sad, sometimes. You see emotions, afflictions, addictions, abuse — bad stuff. My challenge is to get them to a better place. It’s not just about the divorce itself. We don’t just drop them off at the end.”
COVID shut down her office in March 2020, as it did many others. But they reopened in mid-May. Courts were closed; remote proceedings had not yet begun.
But the floodgates opened. And she has been busy ever since.
The pandemic changed how divorce looks, Orland says. As more fathers work and spend time at home, child custody arrangements evolve.
Employment is different too. COVID caused some people to reassess their work. “High flyers may not be in jobs that are as lucrative now,” Orland notes. “And other people lost their jobs.”
At the same time, people used the pandemic to move to higher-paying careers. Others found themselves in industries, like real estate, which boomed.
All of those situations force new looks at divorce settlements already in place. That’s even more work for Orland.
Not all of her job involves splits. She also arranges pre-nuptials. Marriages declined during the worst months of COVID. Now there’s a rush to the altar — and more clients.
“We were crazy busy before,” Orland says. “Now it’s really insane.”
(“06880” is fully reader-supported. Please click here to help.)