It has been widely reported that divorce rates are likely to rise as a result of Covid-19 and the accompanying lockdown. But what about those who are already in the midst of divorce proceedings? What will the impact of the coronavirus pandemic be on them and how their divorce cases progress?
The impact of the coronavirus on existing divorce cases
Divorce is a stressful time made increasingly difficult by the uncertainty of the Covid-19 situation.
With already stretched Court systems having to find ways of adapting to enable adherence to lockdown regulations along with the impact on staffing levels of illness and self-isolation, there is undoubtedly going to be additional delay in the processing of documentation by the Court.
In their list of priority work published on 6th April, HMCTS, the Court service, have said that they will “do their best” to deal with divorce and financial remedy cases during the coronavirus crisis. Divorce cases are not being prioritised.
It is likely that there are going to be delays but that doesn’t mean that everything has to come to a stand still.
Other aspects of divorce which can be progressed
Divorce petitions can still be sent to the Court and online facilities are up and running to enable this. The divorce process itself is only one aspect of relationship breakdown. Issues regarding children and the families financial affairs still need to be resolved. The Court process does not have to be used for this.
Many mediators are working remotely to allow separating couples to discuss and resolve these issues, as are arbitrators, and there are even options for those who are partway through Court cases relating to the marital finances (Financial Remedy cases), including private FDRs which allow parties to make progress even in these uncertain times, if it is advisable for them to do so.
For others, however, uncertain financial times and economic downturns may mean that it is better to put financial cases linked to divorce on hold until there is more certainty as to the value of marital assets, the buoyancy of businesses and certain other assets including investments and pensions.
How Nelsons can help
Emma Davies is a specialist Family Law solicitor at Nelsons.
If you are worried about your existing divorce case and how it may or has already been impacted by the coronavirus, please contact Emma or another member of our expert Family Law team for more information, advice and assistance.