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Helsinki divorce filings fall by 50% over summer

A family relations expert said she was somewhat perplexed by the development.

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However, the relationship expert said that there may be a rise in divorce filings once the crisis subsides. Image: AOP

About half as many divorce petitions were filed in Helsinki this summer compared to last year. According to records at the city's district court, just 216 filings were made in June and July, compared to 397 petitions the same time last summer.

Minna Jaakkola, an expert from the Family Federation of Finland, said the decrease during the coronavirus crisis was unexpected, but certainly positive.

"It would be a very positive and wonderful thing if families spending more time together helped strengthen relationships," she said, but noted that many families have struggled financially and emotionally during the circumstances of the crisis and that it was understandable that the situation has strained relationships.

However, Jaakkola said that the recent decline in divorce filings may be due to people simply delaying such life-changing decisions during stressful times.

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Audio: Yle News

"No one really knows how long this [crisis] will last or what changes are in store. It's conceivable that people are making fewer major life decisions amid the uncertainty," she explained.

However, the relationship expert said that there may be a rise in divorce filings once the crisis subsides.

Different figures across Uusimaa

While divorce filings were down in the capital, divorce filing rates in eastern Uusimaa during June-July were almost exactly the same as last summer - with 323 filings in 2019 and 324 this year.

Meanwhile there was a slight decline in the western part of the region, with 244 petitions for divorce made this summer, as opposed to 303 a year ago.

Jaakkola said the lower divorce filings in Helsinki, which is roughly located in the middle of Uusimaa, were an unexpected development.

"It's been generally speculated that the coronavirus crisis would impact residents in large cities - who often live in small apartments and normally spend a lot of time away from their homes - more than those in rural areas. Yes, this is somewhat confusing news," Jaakkola said.

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