Divorce in the time of Coronavirus

The current public health emergency is a very difficult time for everyone. However, life continues, meaning those with marital difficulties and financial settlements to resolve still have to address those issues.

As a starting point it should be made clear that the Court system is still working albeit mostly remotely. Court hearings are still taking place, mainly by telephone or video-conferencing facilities and digital bundles of court papers have been prepared all over the Country to assist with this. The President of the Family division has stated that the aim is to “keep business going safely”.
As such if you are already within Court proceedings to resolve a children or financial dispute, this will continue although it may not occur exactly in the format that you had expected.

But what about those starting out afresh in divorce or financial proceedings. Well, again the administration of these papers is still taking place and cases are being progressed wherever possible.

Disputes over children unfortunately continue and may even be exacerbated by the current lockdown. However specific guidance has been provided for separated parents to help work through those issues in a previous article from BTMK which can be found here:

View article here

Financial disputes may be very different. In order to reach a fair and equitable agreement, the parties clearly need to know the value of all of the marital assets and this may be proving particularly problematic at this time. This financial disclosure is usually done via the completion of a Form E setting out the parties’ incomes, assets, liabilities and needs.

Property valuations have been difficult to obtain (though this is easing). Further the effect of the current pandemic upon property prices has meant there is a significant degree of uncertainty.

This degree of uncertainty has also crept into many individuals’ employment, meaning their current and future income is in question.
Similarly, those who own businesses face worrying times as the future of their businesses may hang in the balance meaning valuations of such businesses are very difficult.

Lastly what your future needs will be may be hard to ascertain when you do not know the future of the property market.

However, if you are able to work through these problems and reach an agreement there is no reason the current crisis should stop you resolving your financial affairs through the preparation and submission of a consent order setting out the agreement to the Court.

Alternatively those who cannot reach an agreement can still issue proceedings and call upon the Courts assistance to resolve the problems.

Whether it be in relation to divorce and separation, children matters or financial agreements and disputes the Family Law Team at BTMK are available to help. We are currently well set up to offer appointments by telephone or video facilities and can offer free initial consultations.

Please contact Lee Wilcockson at lee.wilcockson@btmk.co.uk or by telephone (all offices, local rate) on 03300 585 222 or through our website at www.btmk.co.uk (live chat available).

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