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Should I wait for further easing of lockdown restrictions before I apply for a divorce?

View profile for Ella Dodgson
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Should I wait for further easing of lockdown restrictions to be lifted further before I apply for a divorce?

The media has predicted that we will experience a rise in divorce cases following the restrictions of lockdown but are there any benefits to waiting for the restrictions to be lifted to start the process?

Make early contact with a specialist lawyer

The first step in the divorce process is to consult a Solicitor specialising in Family Law. At Harrowells, we offer a free initial meeting to all qualifying clients lasting half an hour. In our case, you can do this phone or video call or pre-arranged meeting at one of our offices.

It is important that you are able to build a rapport with your divorce solicitor as they will help you navigate what can be a difficult time in your life. Encouragingly, we have received positive feedback from clients instructing us during lockdown who felt that they were still able to establish a good rapport with our solicitors over the telephone or by video call. This highlights that, whilst some people may still prefer the option of a face-to-face meeting, we and our clients are adjusting well to using alternatives that may often offer you greater flexibility and convenience.

Timescales

The next crucial stage of the divorce process is filing your divorce petition with the Court. Prior to the lockdown, the divorce courts were already suffering with a backlog. This is due to a number of factors including the centralisation of the divorce courts as divorce courts are phased out and replaced with an online system. It is likely that these delays may be exasperated further due to the lockdown as a result of staff shortages.

It would therefore be advisable to consider issuing divorce proceedings at the earliest opportunity in an attempt to avoid any Court delays should there be a spike in divorce cases post lockdown. The family solicitors at Harrowells are registered with the Court’s online divorce system and are therefore are able to offer a digital divorce which can make it quicker and easier to file divorce papers and cut down on wait times.

Other arrangements

Alongside the divorce proceedings, separating couples usually take the opportunity to come to an agreement as to how the matrimonial finances will be dealt with. This may include the sale of the family home or other property or the requirement for property to be valued and therefore some people may be awaiting the restrictions to be lifted before dealing with the financial aspects of separation.

Recently, the government announced its ‘roadmap’ to lift Britain out of lockdown which included reopening the housing market and estate agents being able to market properties and carry out viewings when adhering to social distancing. It is therefore business as usual for the housing markets and therefore the financial aspects of divorce should not deter you from starting the divorce process.

Costs

We understand that a concern of a client going through a divorce at this time is the likely costs of the divorce. We therefore ensure that we are honest with you from the outset in respect of likely costs. We consider the most a cost effective way to reach a desired outcome and discuss with you an estimate of costs at your initial appointment. We also offer fixed fee divorces which can help you manage your divorce costs.

As businesses and the Court adapt to the new normal of social distancing there seems to be little in the way of benefits to waiting for the restrictions of lockdown to be fully lifted to start the divorce process as this is only likely to cause further delays in the process. The divorce process can be a difficult time of your life in any event and divorcing during a pandemic can seem more stressful but it does not need to be as the family law team at Harrowells are able to offer assistance whilst you navigate this period in your life.