But what will staying at home 24/7 do for the state of the nation’s relationships? And what will happen to couples who have already started the divorce process? Liverpool divorce lawyer Tracey Miller Family Law looks into the key issues of what is a rapidly changing situation.
Will divorce rates rise?
Divorce lawyers are expecting the coronavirus crisis to cause a significant increase in divorce rates. Relationships that were already struggling may be pushed to breaking point when couples have to self-isolate together. Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia has said:
"The prediction amongst divorce lawyers is that following self-imposed confinement it is very likely that the divorce rate will rise.
"Our peak times are after long exposure during the summer holidays and over Christmas.
"One only has to imagine what it's going to be like when families are sealed in a property for a long period of time."
If you’re considering delaying divorce until after the peak of the crisis has passed, it’s worth bearing in mind that this is the exact time when the divorce courts are likely to see a spike in demand. As the courts struggle to clear the backlog and new cases flood in, you could end up waiting far longer for your case to be resolved.
The divorce courts – are they working as normal?
Like many industries, the UK’s justice and legal system is bound to be affected by measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Many court staff will be working from home, and there may be staff shortages in a number of key departments. The family law courts are likely to be prioritising essential core cases and using technology to carry out remote telephone and video hearings where possible. This removes the need for people to come into close contact with each other in open, face-to-face court.
Expect delays if you’re getting divorced
Even though the family courts will be doing their utmost to process divorce applications as normal, you should still be prepared for delays in your case. If you have particularly complicated circumstances, such as disagreements over maintenance payments and arrangements for children, it may not be possible for these issues to be ironed out in remote hearings. Hearings may be adjourned until such a time where the case can be heard in court in full.
How legal advice, virtual mediation and counselling can help
Living with a divorce hanging over your head – or worse, with a partner you’re estranged from – in a lockdown situation can be extremely difficult. But you don’t have to handle it alone. You can and should seek legal advice from your divorce solicitor over the phone, and you can even undergo relationship counselling or mediation using remote video calling technology. There are services out there to help people in struggling relationships to cope with the coronavirus lockdown, and to help you prepare your divorce arrangements in as amicable a way as possible.
If you need help or support, or simply want to use this time to get fully prepared for your divorce, don’t hesitate to call Liverpool divorce solicitor Tracey Miller Family Law on 0151 515 3036. You can also access remote counselling services from Relate.