As we all find ourselves in lockdown due to the spread of COVID-19 and navigating the ‘new normal’, many couples are facing the reality of a relationship breakdown. But what steps can you take at this particularly difficult time to protect your future? Aimee Aspinall provides answers to frequently asked questions below.
Can I still get advice about a divorce or separation while on lockdown?
Yes. Our team of specialist family lawyers are working remotely to enable us to continue providing our clients with the best possible service. We are contactable by email and telephone during normal office hours and can offer Skype and telephone meetings in place of face-to-face meetings.
We are also continuing to offer free initial consultations by telephone or Skype for clients finding themselves needing advice about a new family matter.
Should I start divorce proceedings now?
Only you can decide this. We can advise you about the range of options available to you and the timescales involved. We are able to start divorce proceedings online in most cases. There is no such thing as a ‘quickie divorce’, despite what the tabloid news might tell you so whatever you do decide it will take time. COVID-19 is likely to have an impact on court timescales in view of staff absences, and whether you decide to start divorce proceedings now or in the future it is possible that there will be a delay.
What about the finances. We have a home and need to divide our assets; can we do that?
You can certainly look at the arrangements for your finances now, but it may prove difficult in terms of valuing certain assets or implementing any agreement reached in the current climate. If you are unable to agree the value of your home or other properties, it may be necessary to have an expert inspect the property which will not be possible for some time. Equally, if you agree that the family home needs to be sold, you will need to think about when to market the property for sale and arrangements for paying any mortgage in the meantime.
If it is not possible for you to come to an agreement about either the division of assets or values of certain assets, then either party can make an application to court to resolve matters. The court service is currently listing many hearings to take place by telephone/Skype. There may be instances where cases need to be adjourned, e.g. where assets need to be valued by an expert and in those instances, delays will be unavoidable.
If you would like to speak with one of our family law specialists then please contact a member of our Family team.