16 Oct 2020

Family & Matrimonial

The practicalities of divorce during a pandemic

With online searches on the Citizens Advice Bureau website in September up 25% compared with the same time last year and lawyers across the UK reporting an increase in enquiries, it appears that early predictions that the UK divorce rate would rise significantly when we finally emerge from the coronavirus crisis are coming true.

Dealing with a marriage breakdown at any time can be stressful but during a global pandemic, there are all sorts of other factors at play. Our head of family law, Kate Thomas, explores some of the most common difficulties being faced by clients who are having to divorce during Covid and offers her advice

“We have seen a big increase in the number of divorce cases coming through in recent months. The enforced lockdown and strict restrictions have put a strain on even the strongest of relationships but in many marriages, the pressure of being forced to spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week with each other for months on end has just been too much.

“Many couples who were able to live together in normal times – helped by the distractions of work and friends – have been pushed to the limit with tensions simmering and often boiling over. The stress of changing circumstances and in many cases, the difficulties of living on a reduced income have also taken their toll so, unsurprisingly, we are seeing more and more enquiries from people wanting to understand their options.

“However, as we all know, these are not normal times. While we have been able to continue to offer our services to clients remotely throughout the national and local lockdowns, we understand that starting divorce proceedings during a pandemic has been even harder for people than it would normally be. For example, simply finding the privacy to have initial conversations with their lawyer has been really tricky for many people, particularly when we were in national lockdown and only allowed to leave the house once a day.

“Typically, when couples are separating, one party will move out to stay with a friend or family member but again, this has been more difficult with extra restrictions in place to limit the spread of Covid. For many couples, this has meant they have had to remain living in the same property, trying to occupy different areas of the house and having to define certain times when they can use shared spaces such as the kitchen and bathroom.

“It can also be complicated to split assets in the current climate as investments, pensions, properties and business assets may well have changed in value during the Covid crisis. Without a crystal ball, however, it is impossible to know whether these changes will be temporary or permanent so there really is no way of deciding on the best time to start divorce proceedings.

“Let’s not forget that a couple’s financial position may be even more uncertain six months or a year down the line, in the economic aftermath of the global pandemic, so it is more important than ever to get advice regarding the financial aspects of a divorce as early as possible.

“We would urge anyone not to make hasty, life-changing decisions at times of extreme stress. This is perhaps the most stressful time that many of us have ever lived through so please do tread carefully. If, however, you know that your marriage has broken down and you are determined to go ahead with divorce proceedings – or you simply want to explore your options in confidence – we will be happy to help.”

Get in touch

At Harding Evans, we know how stressful and emotionally draining divorce can be. Our expert and friendly family law team can advise you on all aspects of getting divorced and will help to minimise the stress and upset that inevitably comes with ending a marriage. For a confidential discussion about your situation, please contact Kate Thomas on 01633 760678 or email hello@hevans.com.

 

 

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