As our communities are in lockdown to fight the coronavirus those couples who are facing relationship difficulties are perhaps in an even trickier situation than ever before. Director and divorce finances lawyer Donna Hart shares some of the questions that we have been asked.
Should I start divorce proceedings now?
This is a question only you can decide. This is currently a difficult time for many so you will of course want to be sensitive about the situation.
Many family law firms are still open meaning you can still obtain advice and assistance in respect so there is nothing to stop you from commencing divorce proceedings if you feel this is the right thing to do.
A divorce can take from 6 to 12 months, depending on court delays, so you should consider this.
Should I be looking at financial settlement now?
You really should take advice from a lawyer in this regard. Some people may still be able to proceed with their cases and some people may use this time to work towards a settlement. Others have placed matters on hold as they may be facing uncertainty in their financial positions. Each case will be different and therefore it is important that you seek advice in this regard.
It is important to consider any interim and long term maintenance agreements you may have as these may be subject to varying downwards if the payee is currently unable to work. This may also affect child support payments.
Pensions and other market assets may have reduced in value and mortgage offers may be placed on hold.
Is this virus likely to have an impact on my case and cause delay?
If you are currently working towards a court timetable there may be a delay simply due to the amount of hearings the court are trying to facilitate via telephone and video link rather than in the court building. Some hearings may have to be adjourned. The court or your lawyer will advise you of this should this occur.
Otherwise, if you are working towards settlement and negotiations through lawyers or mediation there is no reason why this cannot continue as many practitioners are likely to be working remotely to assist you.
What is the guidance for separated parents at this time in terms of seeing their children?
We produce a blog to assist: https://www.thefamilylawco.co.uk/blog/2020/03/19/covid-19-how-it-affects-child-contact-if-youre-a-separated-parent/
However, if you are worried about your children or contact arrangements, please contact us.
I am a victim of domestic abuse and really worried about my current situation. What can I do if I need help?
If you are in immediate danger, call 999.
The Family Law Company are still open and able to assist in applying for urgent injunctions. There are also fantastic charities such as Splitz https://www.splitz.org/ still offering support. If you are unable to telephone us you can email us at [email protected] – please leave your name and a safe way for us to contact you.
Is there anything else I should be thinking about at this time?
Our advice is that if you are uncertain of your situation seek advice and if you already have a lawyer stay in touch with them.
Donna Hart is a Divorce Lawyer and Director at The Family Law Company. She is an an expert in divorce and finance law. To contact Donna about this or any other family issue please call 01392 421777 or email [email protected]