24 March 2020

Dealing with divorce during lockdown

Divorce and separation bring with them a multitude of concerns and stresses, but for those going through the process right now, apart from a few delays, the same principles and issues will be dealt with in the same way as in calmer times.

If I have to move out of the family home now, what should I do?

If you are facing an injunction or an occupation order, affecting where you live and who you contact, two of the factors that will be taken into account will be the risk of harm and whether alternative accommodation is available.

The whole family justice system has fairness and equality at its heart, with most matrimonial legislation having built-in guidelines designed to ensure all relevant factors are taken into account and fairness is achieved.

How can my finances be properly assessed when the market has crashed?

When it comes to finances, there is another important checklist of factors that are taken into account (known as section 25).  As a general rule, the court will always make a decision based on the value of an asset at the time of any hearing.

It can however take account of previous (or indeed future) value too; each case should be looked at on its own merits, but do take advice. It is possible, but not certain, that the court may adjourn some decisions until the crisis is over and the market has recovered.

Will my divorce take longer?

For now, it is business as usual as far as the courts are concerned.  There have been no additional delays so far in terms of processing the paperwork, court hearings up until the end of last week were functioning as normal and courts are now making arrangements for more remote working i.e. hearings by telephone conference. That is likely to work for some of the more routine hearings, but in terms of final hearings where key decisions have to be made and evidence and cross examination is required, they may well be adjourned until the current crisis is over.

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About the Author
Andrew Caldicott, Partner, Head of Relationships and Family Law Team

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