26 March 2020

Coping with divorce and separation during the Covid-19 outbreak

If you are going through a divorce or separation, the impact of Covid-19 and the measures introduced to limit its spread are likely to be exceptionally tough for you.

You may be in self isolation with someone who you are separating from. If you have children who are now no longer at school, this will also be difficult. Add in worrying financial forecasts and redundancies and there may be a lot of unpredicted stress and tension for many families.

We have put together the following guidance to help those going through separation or divorce.

Financial difficulties you could face during proceedings as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic

The effect of coronavirus on the global economy has been huge. It is important to consider the impact this will have on your finances if you are going through divorce or separation. When you are looking to divide your finances and reach a fair financial solution, this is only going to be made more difficult to navigate as a result of the current uncertainty.

Stocks and shares

The value of stocks and shares has fallen significantly and is highly likely to continue to do so over the coming months. This in turn will mean that there is less equity to divide between two parties to a divorce. Furthermore, if your income has been reduced due to Covid-19, it may be necessary to liquidate stocks and shares in order to remain financially stable. If you own stocks and shares, it would be sensible to monitor their value over the coming months and speak to a financial advisor who can advise you of your options.

House prices

House prices are likely to fall, as property owners are less likely to sell their homes during economic uncertainty and when the country is in isolation. The marital home is often the main asset in a marriage and is often sold as part of a financial resolution. This will become much more difficult in the current crisis.

Employment

Small businesses and those who are self-employed have already been hit by the coronavirus measures. There have been many redundancies and it is likely there will be more in the coming months. If your individual income, and household income, is reduced, this will have a knock on effect on reaching a financial solution to your divorce.

What can you do to manage the situation as well as possible?

Communicate with each other

As you know, the coronavirus situation changes on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. If you can, try to speak to each other calmly and practically to solve any day-to-day issues that arise. It will help you both if you can reduce conflict and create a functioning living arrangement whilst the coronavirus measures are in place. If you do not feel comfortable having a face-to-face conversation, arrange an alternative method such as FaceTime, email or a telephone call. If you have children, it will fall to you as parents to put their best interests first and keep them away from the stresses of your separation.

Look into Government measures

The Government has announced financial safeguards, such as loans and mortgage holidays, to help people during this time. These can help you in the short term to remain financially afloat.

Speak to a legal professional

Legal professionals across the family law spectrum are still working and the courts are still functioning. We can talk you through your current financial and living arrangements and how best to mange to your individual circumstance. We can also advise you on the most recent guidance from the Family Courts as to the court hearings that can still take place (whether at court or remotely) and how this may affect your case.

If you have questions about the impact of Covid-19 on child arrangements, we have provided guidance here.

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About the Author
Nick Gova, Legal Director, Head of Family Law in London

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