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Divorce, separation and COVID-19

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Navigating a relationship breakdown is rarely stress free but couples separating over the past few months will have had to deal with particularly unique challenges. With so much changing from one week to the next it can be hard to know how best to plan for the future but what is clear is that the long term impacts, for example on jobs and the housing market, are still unknown. There will be a vast array of circumstances that people find themselves in and we would always recommend that you seek legal advice about your own circumstances at an early opportunity to enable you to consider the options available to you.

Some couples may be wondering whether they even can proceed with their divorce at this time, given that many offices and services are closed or working reduced hours. The family court system is set up to continue to deal with cases and applications even if COVID-19 restrictions remain in place for some time to come. The courts are dealing with hearings remotely and accepting applications electronically.  As a firm, since the lock down we have been successfully meeting with our clients by telephone and video calls and we are continuing to offer the same level of service and communication to our clients. If you need advice on the next steps to progress your divorce, we can arrange an initial consultation for you to speak with a solicitor to discuss your individual circumstances.

Many people may still be awaiting the end of the furlough scheme in October 2020 to see if and how their job and income might be affected. Income is a consideration when it comes to a financial settlement, but it won’t be the only aspect that will need to be considered. We will be able to advise you on how any change in income or employment status might impact upon your financial 

If you and your spouse have separated but find yourself unable to proceed with your divorce at this time, there are still steps that you can take. For example a separation agreement is a formal, legal document that can be drawn up to set out the detail of any agreements reached regarding the end of your relationship. This can include what is to happen with the family home or any proceeds from the sale, how savings and debts are to be managed and whether there are any maintenance payments to be made.

While it is not legally binding, it is a contract that can be considered once you go through the divorce process. Both parties will need to seek separate legal advice before it can be finalised, but the process can reduce on costs and time later as it can then be drawn up as a consent order within the divorce proceedings if both parties remain in agreement.  

If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement regarding the finances, we can advise you as to the options available to you as well as assisting in communication between you both. In certain circumstances, it may be advisable to make an application to the court to resolve the financial aspects. We will fully advise you on your own particular set of circumstances and on the process and implications of any course of action.