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The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown are undoubtedly placing increased strain on people and their relationships with others. For those who are married or in a civil partnership, and wish to separate, the current environment adds another level of uncertainty as to how they should go about this. Here, our family specialists answer some of your key questions.
I would like a Divorce/Dissolution, can I still get one during the pandemic?
Yes. The court system remains open throughout the pandemic, with most operating remotely. As an alternative to the traditional paper petition, legal professionals can now apply for your divorce online and this may be an option that any separating couples may consider.
I have ongoing Divorce/Dissolution proceedings, will they continue as normal?
In short, yes they will. However, with some courts operating on reduced staff and indeed remotely, it may be that the process takes longer than previously anticipated. Our family specialists remain in close contact with the courts during this time and will always seek to move matters forward as swiftly as possible.
I want to leave the Marital Home, can I do this given the current restrictions on movement?
On 26th March 2020 The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England Regulations 2020) came into force. These broadly limit the reasons for leaving your home to the following (please note this is not an exhaustive list):
- To obtain basic necessities including food or medical supplies
- To take exercise, once a day, either alone or with a member of the household
- To seek medical assistance
- To provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person
- To travel to work, only where it is not reasonable for the person to work from home
Though it may be hard living together after deciding to separate, separating couples should remain in the household together, providing it is safe to do so. The regulations do allow for a person to leave the home to avoid injury, illness or where they are at risk of harm. So, if you fear for your safety, or are at risk of domestic abuse, you should seek help immediately.
For those who remain living together, consider living separately and apart. This would entail each cooking your own meals, doing you own washing and sleeping in separate bedrooms where possible.
We can’t agree how our assets should be divided, can we still appoint a third party to help?
Though it may be logistically difficult for each person to appoint a third party to assist them, most lawyers and experts such as pension actuaries, surveyors, accountants and financial advisors remain open for business and we will be able to negotiate matters on your behalf using any expert information where needed.
We have reached an agreement on financial matters, what can we do next?
If the parties agree on the division of the marital assets, they can apply to the court for a Consent Order. It is advisable that no agreement be finalised or concluded until independent legal advice has been sought. Consent Orders can still be submitted to the Court for approval by a Judge at this time.
I am applying for a Pension Sharing Order, will there be any impact?
It is advisable to obtain third party advice in relation to your pension provision and our team of family specialists work closely with a number of actuaries, who can advise on the full impact of each individual case.
If you require advice on your separation or financial matters, we remain digitally open, and happy to assist.
At Nowell Meller we offer free initial appointments to family clients, where our specialist team can talk through the issues with you and help you to make the right decision. Contact us now to discuss the options available to you on either 01785 252377 or 01782 813315 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.