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What Impact will COVID-19 have on Divorce or Child-share Arrangements?

Posted on 1st May 2020 by Goodwins Family Law Solicitors

Coronavirus has halted the plans of everyone on a global level – and legal disputes are no exception. However, not everybody may realise that courts remain open during COVID-19, allowing you to receive the advice and support you need for divorce and family law matters. In this article, the expert family lawyers here at Goodwins Family Law Solicitors will be exploring how couples in isolation or quarantine can proceed with married life, divorce and child custody issues at this difficult time. 

Young boy sheltering from COVID-19

Overview of the situation

While the whole world stays at home, coronavirus is undoubtedly putting pressure on families across the UK, for example: 

  • Whether you were in the process of planning a divorce, or it’s been on your mind for a while, the COVID-19 situation may have now left you wondering if you should continue with the divorce process or begin a new divorce proceeding. 
  • Divorced couples may be unsure of how to proceed with child sharing arrangements under the current lockdown rules. 
  • Other couples are finding themselves either apart from their partner, or sharing a house with their partner, with whom they may have been experiencing difficulties prior to lockdown. 

What pressure will isolation have on couples? 

Under the lockdown guidance outlined by the government, everyone should be socially distancing when outside and not visiting any friends or family members outside their household. This could have pressure on couples who are not cohabiting, as they adjust to weeks, potentially months, of not seeing each other in person. On the other end of the spectrum, lockdown is also putting pressure on couples who are living together, especially if they were experiencing relationship or marriage difficulties before the lockdown began – these problems may now be exacerbated. 

What impacts are predicted for divorce rates? 

Some reports indicate that divorce rates are predicted to increase due to the virus, resulting in a ‘divorce boom’ – with some reports claiming that China has experienced this divorce spike already as the country emerges from lockdown. 

However, trends are actually showing a 30% drop-off rate in divorce-related search terms. This could be due to citizens focusing on other aspects of their lives, such as looking after children, their health, or taking care of basic needs during the crisis. Or it could be that citizens are waiting until lockdown before continuing about their business, and may not realise that services, including divorce consultation and court usage, are still available to them. 

How to get divorced during COVID-19 

As courts remain open during the pandemic, the team at Goodwins are also operating throughout the crisis to ensure divorce proceedings are not delayed. Our divorce solicitors are offering an online divorce consultation service, and all meetings will be held via telephone or video call for everyone’s safety. 

This business-as-usual approach is to ensure both current and new clients can safety and efficiently continue with their divorce proceedings with minimal disruption or delay. 

What impact will lockdown have on child custody arrangements? 

The lockdown may also be putting pressure on divorced couples with child-share arrangements, or couples in the process of divorcing. Generally speaking, child handovers should still be taking place if feasible, as long the parents remain socially distant. Some parents are choosing to agree on variations to their arrangements in the short-term, depending on their personal circumstances during lockdown. 

There may be exceptions, for example, if the divorced parties dispute the arrangements due to the legal circumstances, or if one or both parents are required to self-isolate. It is worth getting specialist  advice on these matters from professional family and divorce lawyers, to ensure you’re upholding the child custody agreement while still remaining adherent to the government’s lockdown rules. 

If you’re wondering how to get divorced in a pandemic, or need some advice on custody arrangements and disputes, Goodwins Family Law Solicitors can help. We’re leading divorce law specialists, assisting families across London, the UK and internationally with legal advice and representation for a variety of family law matters. As the courts remain open, we’re committed to continuing working on all cases, including ongoing and new cases. To arrange a video call, please get in touch with our professional team today. 

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