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20th May, 2020 by Justine Flack
Family law expert, Justine Flack discusses whether divorce is still possible during lockdown and what people who are considering divorce can do now in preparation for when restrictions are lifted.
We are living in challenging times as we try to keep ourselves safe from the virus. Being confined to our homes, however much we love them, is not easy. Those who live alone are craving human contact that those in broken marriages may want nothing more than to be alone. That inability to leave may be causing anxiety and frustration.
Whilst physical separation may not be possible at this time, there are things that can be done to manage the situation and in terms of preparation for when more active steps can be taken. This preparation may put you in a better place to proceed once restrictions are lifted.
Firstly, the family team at Howes Percival is working. If you want some advice about your situation, give us a call. We are happy to have a no obligation chat and to provide some initial guidance.
Secondly, the fact that we are not in our offices does not mean we can't take you on as a client if you want to get things started now. The initial interview can be carried out remotely - telephone, Zoom or Face Time, we can carry out the necessary identity checks and proceedings can be commenced.
The courts are still working. Divorce petitions can be filed, court hearings relating to children and finances are happening remotely and cases are progressing.
If you don't want to start proceedings at this point you can make good use of your time preparing. Organise your financial documents; locate bank statements, mortgage statements, wage slips and your P60. Apply for pension valuations and surrender values on policies. Talk to your financial adviser and make sure you understand your investments and your current position. Talk to your accountant about your tax position or issues affecting your business so that you are completely up to date. Prepare your budget; what expenditure do you have now, what will you need on separation (if you are not yet living apart) and what will you need once the divorce is finalised.
Consider the needs of your children. Really think about how they will be cared for on separation, what time will they spend with each of you and what are the practicalities that have to be accounted for. If you are able to talk to your spouse about this then start those discussions. It is always better if you can agree things and it is always good if you can present a clear, agreed plan to your children.
If you can't physically separate at this time try and be respectful of one another. We are hearing of a rise in the incidence of domestic violence and you should contact the police if you are in danger. Injunctions can still be obtained in the family court at this time if you need it, just talk to us.
Coronavirus has changed the way we are doing things and some things may take a little longer but progress is being made. Proceedings are being issued, financial negotiations are taking place, orders for children are being made and Decree Absolutes are coming through. In short, life is continuing and divorce remains possible even against the background of coronavirus.
The information on this site about legal matters is provided as a general guide only. Although we try to ensure that all of the information on this site is accurate and up to date, this cannot be guaranteed. The information on this site should not be relied upon or construed as constituting legal advice and Howes Percival LLP disclaims liability in relation to its use. You should seek appropriate legal advice before taking or refraining from taking any action.