With the UK in lockdown until at least May 7, the next few weeks are going to be difficult for many in relationships further strained by the coronavirus pandemic. But for those divorcing during lockdown or who need advice or support we are working to help you.
Lawyers, like many others, have had to adapt quickly to a new landscape. We’re working from home safely and securely and remain in regular contact with those we represent.
Whilst we are currently unable to meet clients face-to-face, we are taking instructions by email; we’ve sorted the best camera angles for video conferencing and there is always the good old telephone!
We will do whatever works best for you.
The Family Court in England and Wales is still open as access to justice remains an ‘essential service’.
Divorcing during lockdown
Telephone and video hearings have come to the fore. Face-to-face hearings are only being held in exceptional circumstances. And while, like most organisations, courts have been hit by the spread of the virus and staff taking the necessary steps to shield or self-isolate, they are still very much open for business.
The pandemic has hit the economy hard, affecting many people’s employment, pensions, investments and overall financial stability.
Undoubtedly anyone in the midst of proceedings should think hard about how the current situation affects them, not only now but also in the longer term.
In some cases, delay is the only option but here at Merrick we remain solution-focused. If there’s a way to achieve the closure you want, be reassured we will do our best to find it.
An alternative dispute resolution service, such as mediation, can allow for more flexible outcomes and parties are being actively encouraged to pursue this forum in order to avoid current delays in the court process. It is, however, important to first ensure your case is suitable and that you enter any such process fully advised as to outcomes.
Any existing shared care arrangements should be maintained where possible. But, if both parents are now at home, consider also the benefits of a revised arrangement which allows you to share more equally the task of home-schooling!
It is a sad fact that domestic violence is an increased risk because of the lockdown. The need for families to spend prolonged amounts of time in close quarters, coupled with the financial and social pressures, mean additional anxieties for some.
The most important thing is to keep yourself and any children safe. If you are concerned for your physical or mental well-being, then please do seek help as soon as possible.
The Government has stressed the instruction to stay at home does not apply if you need to escape domestic abuse.
Refuge runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline. You can call for free, and in confidence, 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247.
Our phoneline 0161 505 1850 continues to be answered from 8am – 8pm, Monday to Friday. If it is difficult to call because of the lockdown you can send us a private message via social media or email email@example.com.
We are working to help you.
We’ve written previously about the children of separated parents during lockdown.