“For some couples, the equilibrium relied on the fact that that they didn’t see each other very often or they were able to see their lovers,” said Annamaria Bernardini di Pace, a divorce lawyer.

Since lockdown began on March 9, she has taken on 12 new divorce proceedings.

The loss of jobs and worries about money have exacerbated the tensions between many couples.

The increase in couples splitting is no surprise to lawyers – most continued to work during the lockdown, communicating with clients via Whatsapp, Skype and other platforms.

“It is too early to give precise numbers but we have seen a doubling in requests for separations,” said Valentina Ruggiero, a family lawyer.

“Given the heavy emotional stress of the lockdown, my advice is for couples to evaluate whether it is a passing crisis or whether the relationship is really at the end of the line.”

Lawyers likened the boom in separations to the periods after Christmas and the summer holidays, when divorce proceedings traditionally spike.

“I knew that it would end up like this because for weeks I’ve been conducting consultations on the phone and social media,” Gian Ettore Gassani, the president of the Italian Association of Divorce Lawyers, told Corriere della Sera newspaper.

With courts closed during the lockdown, judges have allowed some divorce proceedings to be heard by videoconference.

The option is available to couples who have largely agreed the terms of their divorce, including custody of children and the division of assets.

As Italy emerges from its draconian lockdown regime, there have been other unforeseen consequences – including a sharp hike in prices.

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