Couples in Northland seem to be coping with the stresses and strains of Covid-19 despite weeks spent in lockdown, economic pressures and an uncertain future.
Unlike New Zealand's main cities, lawyers and relationship counsellors in Northland are not reporting a surge in separation and divorce inquiries due to complex factors surrounding the pandemic.
In fact, they say it's "business as usual", and that living in the winterless north with an abundance of space could be the reason couples haven't struggled as much as city dwellers.
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Graham Day, a director and lawyer at Law North in Kerikeri, said the company hasn't seen an increase in relationship breakdowns in the Far North.
People are still separating, but no more than normal, he said.
"Anecdotally, I've heard that's the case on a national level but we're not seeing it in Northland.
"For us it's business as usual. Maybe in the winterless North it hasn't happened.
"It might be that we're a bit more laid back up here, we're not living in an Auckland rat race."
Day, who specialises in disputes, said people he has spoken to about Covid-19 restrictions mostly said they enjoyed their time in lockdown which began late March.
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"One of the first things you say to someone you haven't seen for a while is 'how was your lockdown?'.
"Not one single person said it was bad. They'd all say they got to see more of their kids and spend more time with family. Up here you can get outside and go for walks.
"Maybe if you were living in an apartment building in the city, it might have been more of a struggle."
In New Zealand, residents don't have to do anything official when separating from their partner.
However, the Government recommends a separation agreement to keep things clear, especially if there are children, joint finances or property involved.
Couples can also apply to the Family Court for a separation order.
A couple can only file for divorce if they have been separated for two years.
Day said any increase in divorce rates could not be linked to Covid pressures, because the two-year separation period would not be up.
"However, it is possible that couples who have been separated for the necessary two years had more time to contemplate life and their relationships during lockdown and felt that it was finally the appropriate time to formally dissolve their marriages," he said.
Day said many couples start the separation process without contacting lawyers.
This can often occur down the line after they have had time to adjust to life apart.
"If there is an increase in separations it's possible we may start hearing about this before the end of the year."
Whangārei couple's therapist and mediator Ellen Altshuler said more couples have sought counselling this year, but the issues raised were not strictly related to Covid.
People with a "negative interactional pattern of communication" were vulnerable to getting way out of balance, she said.
"We all had an increase of stresses and strains during lockdown; adjusting to change very suddenly, in times of great uncertainty and some fear.
"For those families where there were already stresses, in many cases things got worse. For relationships where one person was putting up with abusive behaviour, things got worse."
Altshuler said in some cases, lockdown gave people time to reflect about the quality of their relationship and their unhappiness.
"In others, the sudden change of routine just tipped the balance in the relationship to a point where they were able to decide to end the relationship.
"For couples where one or both partners have rigid ways of coping with stress... lockdown was an enormous strain."
Kerikeri lawyer Mike Dodds said his practice has seen a 25 per cent increase in post Covid inquiries.
"Everybody is rushed off their feet; partly because of a lot of demand, and partly because of court shutting down during lockdown and they're now working hard to catch up with the backlog."
Dodds said many of the relationship breakdowns are due to family violence, but "there are cases where violence isn't alleged".
"Whether Covid is the driving force, I'm not hearing that but we're seeing that increased demand."
Divorce by numbers
Last year, 8391 couples were granted divorces in New Zealand.
That's 8.6 divorces for every 1000 estimated existing marriages and civil unions.
During Covid restrictions earlier this year, Ministry of Justice figures show the number of divorces filed in the Family Court increased from zero during level 4 to an average of 90 a week during level 3.
This increased to 103 applications per week under level 2, however, this is still 45 per cent fewer applications compared to pre-lockdown.