There has been much reference in the media about the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on relationships and divorce during lockdown. On the one hand, some couples feel that the pandemic has brought them closer together and made them appreciate one another, whereas for others, being cooped up inside together for extended periods has led to their relationship breaking down when it may not have done otherwise.
This last year has been tough for everyone – with health, money and employment worries perhaps more prevalent than before. With lockdown 3.0 now upon us, many couples who have encountered difficulties will no doubt be considering their position given the prospect of the “stay at home” rule without a clear end date in sight. January is well known for being a busy month for divorce lawyers, mostly due to the pressure couples come under during the run up to and over the Christmas period and it is expected to be even busier this year due to the pandemic.
If you are considering separating from your partner, whether you are married or not, it is important that you seek early legal advice so that you are fully appraised of your options before taking any steps. An experienced family lawyer can ensure that you are aware of all relevant issues arising out of a separation.
At the current time, there is one ground for divorce which is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This must be proved by one of five facts:
- The respondent has committed adultery (i.e. had a sexual relationship with a member of the opposite sex) and the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with them;
- The respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with them;
- The respondent has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of at least two years immediately prior to making the application;
- The parties have lived apart for a continuous period of two years immediately prior to making the application and the respondent consents to the divorce; or
- The parties have lived apart for a continuous period of five years immediately prior to making the application.
Seeking specialist advice will enable you to decide which of the above facts best fits your situation.
Whilst the process of divorcing is relatively straightforward provided both parties cooperate, it is not just the divorce itself that needs to be dealt with. Many people do not know that even after they have their Decree Absolute of Divorce, the financial claims between them and their spouse remain open indefinitely unless they obtain a Financial Remedy Order from the Court. It is therefore essential that financial matters are dealt with alongside the divorce. Financial matters can become complicated depending on the assets involved and whether or not children are involved – it is therefore vital to take advice at an early stage so you can ensure that you are on the right track and are not agreeing to something unfair.
Finally, in some cases, it may appropriate to obtain advice on the arrangements for children. If it appears there may be issues regarding these arrangements, it is again important to seek advice at an early opportunity.
If you are considering separating from your partner or have already started the process and need assistance, please feel free to contact us.