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Family Law

Can I start a divorce during lockdown?

Divorce during lockdown

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

The first lockdown was difficult for many couples. Not having the opportunity to spend time away from each other, juggling home-schooling with homeworking plus financial and health worries put an extraordinary strain on many marriages. This has left many couples wondering whether their relationship has sufficient immunity to survive another lockdown.

Can I start a divorce during lockdown ?

Yes, you can still get divorced during lockdown. The family law team at Samuel Phillips has remained open throughout the pandemic. We are working remotely and offering virtual consultations. We would, however, recommend not making any rash decisions during this challenging time and always seek legal advice before starting your divorce. It is also important to get advice on other matters, such as finances and arrangements for any children. Getting advice as early as possible allows you to make informed decisions about what is best for you and your family.

If having taken advice, you decide to proceed with your divorce, the good news is that the family courts are still open. The courts are accepting new divorce petitions and all petitions can now be filed online via the new portal. It is, therefore, possible to apply for a divorce without having to leave the house.

It is possible to reach a financial settlement during lockdown ?

Yes, it is possible to reach a financial settlement during lockdown.

The starting point in any financial negotiation is to value what is in the “marital pot”. There is always a degree of tolerance around this, for instance as bank balances and pension values fluctuate. The COVID19 pandemic has resulted in an increased volatility in the markets. This will likely impact the value of your (and your spouse’s) property, pensions, investments and or business interests. It may, therefore, be preferable for you to agree a financial settlement now, whilst your assets are valued lower. Or it may be preferable for you to delay agreeing a financial settlement until your spouse’s assets are valued higher.

Your income and employment (or your spouse’s) may also have been affected by the current pandemic. Income is a consideration when it comes to a financial settlement. So it may be in your financial best interests to reach a settlement now whilst your income is reduced or it might better for you to wait until your spouse’s income returns to normal.

Each case is different. Therefore it is important to take advice early to consider the options and how best to proceed. The Family Team at Samuel Phillips will advise you on your own particular circumstances and on the process and implications of any course of action.

To arrange a confidential discussion to discuss your personal circumstances please contact the Family Team on 0191 232 8451 or email familydepartment@samuelphillips.co.uk

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