After three months of lockdown, ever-changing guidelines, and an uncertain future ahead, the effects of stress and pressure on relationships are beginning to show as family law professionals report an increase in divorce enquiries. Parents in particular are feeling the strain, attempting to juggle home schooling, work, and childcare while dealing with potential financial insecurity and all the other worries associated with the Covid situation.
Any one of these stressors could feel like the last straw to a couple whose relationship may already be going through difficult times. And as the intensity of the quarantine period eases off, many people are now considering making the decision to split. We have seen a definite increase in separation enquiries, combined with concerns over property, end of life planning, and financial security.
In all cases, we try to remind clients that – as has been said so often in the past few months – we are all living through ‘unprecedented times’, and the stressful effects of the current situation cannot be understated. We know it may feel as if things are insurmountable at the moment, but we suggest couples to take their time to talk things over as honestly as possible, make sure they’re putting any children or dependents first, and get professional advice and guidance before making a decision. Sometimes just speaking to a solicitor about your options can take a huge weight off your shoulders.
It’s worth noting that the Family Court is also working through a backlog of cases due to lockdown, meaning delays to processing divorce applications may stretch well into 2021. For anyone considering separation, we suggest looking at out of court alternatives to dispute resolution, such as mediation, family arbitration, and collaborative family law, or looking at the option of a private hearing if there is a real urgency to proceedings.
If at all possible, try to work cooperatively and amicably, and take this period of enforced downtime to really consider your situation and what you want from an outcome. If there are children involved, bear in mind that they are also going through a huge period of change and uncertainty, and now more than ever need to know that they are safe and secure.
It’s such a difficult time for everyone – especially if you’re going through the prospect of separation – so above all, be kind to yourself, and seek the help you need, whether that’s from couples counselling, individual therapy, or the expert advice of your solicitor.
And there’s no need to make a decision right this minute. We may feel as if we’re in limbo right now, but we won’t be stuck here forever!
If you need to speak to a family lawyer about any aspect of separation, divorce, private hearings, or the other options available to you, please get in touch at www.franceslindsay.co.uk. Let us take the weight off your shoulders and pave the way to a less stressful future.