2 key answers about getting a divorce during the coronavirus
Making the decision to divorce or separate is difficult for anyone at any time.
In the current climate when also facing the coronavirus pandemic, self- isolation and financial concerns, ending a relationship can add even more strain. Early on in the crisis it was even reported that the UK might see a spike in the rate of divorce.
While the lock-down is now easing, much of Britain still remains on hold. For many, family life is continuing to adapt with the addition of stress created by Covid-19. For some, their marriage is in difficulty and yet they find themselves having to remain living together due to the current situation.
So, even in these exceptional times what can you do if you find yourself in this situation? Below are answers to two key questions being asked about getting a divorce during the coronavirus.
Are courts still dealing with divorce petitions?
Yes, courts are still processing and issuing divorce petitions.
Courts continue to deal with existing divorce and financial remedy proceedings. Thanks to changes in the infrastructure of the legal system, divorce remains just as accessible for those who want it. At Hillyer McKeown (HM) we are continuing to assist clients during the pandemic, who need to finalise their divorce.
For some, matrimonial homes have already been sold and the proceeds of the sale are on deposit ready for sharing, and in part, settlements have been implemented. For others, they have lost their jobs and compared to their spouse have a much lower income (if any at all) and so urgent spousal maintenance applications are being made to court.
On the other hand, some clients are keen to place matters on hold, especially if the current pandemic means that assets such as businesses, pensions and investments are dropping in value.
Are court hearings still going ahead?
Yes; although some court hearings are being adjourned, for many, hearings are still taking place remotely by phone or video conferencing facilities.
In March 2020, Mr Justice Mostyn released the following statement, concerning financial hearings following divorce:
“Parties should be encouraged to have their Financial Dispute Resolution hearing done privately. Such private FDRs should routinely be done remotely. Most barristers’ chambers and solicitors’ offices have facilities to enable FDRs to be done remotely.”
It should be noted that if a consent order (outlining the terms of a financial agreement) is not put in place and approved by the court – effectively a financial full stop to a couple’s marriage – there’s nothing to stop either spouse from making a claim on each other’s cash or assets at some point in the future (even years after the divorce, so we definitely recommend setting out an agreement!)
Getting a divorce amid coronavirus
If you have made the decision to divorce, HM can advise you on your legal rights and options available. Seeking early advice can potentially save future heartache and financial stress further down the line.
HM’s family law team is offering free initial confidential discussions to anyone seeking advice during this uncertain time.
Please note that our team is working remotely and is fully trained to provide exceptional quality advice and service, by phone and during video appointments.
Thank you to the author Jennifer Carr.