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Trapped – the impact of Covid on relationship breakdowns

The trials and tribulations that have been created by the Covid pandemic have impacted so many aspects of our lives. Divorce and family disputes are, unfortunately, no different. We have written several articles which deal with ways to try and minimise the impact of Covid on your relationship (which can be found here).

Inevitably, there will be couples who have reached the end of their time together. Whether their parting has been exacerbated by the effects of Covid or not – the breakdown of a relationship is difficult enough without the necessary restrictions imposed by Government, which have added another thick layer of complexity.

The first difficulty is the practical ability to speak with a lawyer in a meaningful and confidential way. Discussing relationship breakdowns, the division of assets and/or your children are incredibly personal and emotive subjects; and speaking with your lawyer for the first time over the telephone will no doubt feel like an unsatisfactory and awkward prospect. Many law firms, including ourselves, have had to find new ways to connect with their clients so that they feel safe and supported and in a way which they feel most comfortable with.

Secondly, there is the uncertainty of when the lockdown will be over and/or whether we will be thrown into another one. No doubt the thought of having to stay in the same house as someone you have just told that you want to leave will be a hugely unappealing prospect. You may need to ensure that you are financially able to leave the family home or ask the other person to leave which will require a well thought out and coordinated strategy both in the short term and the medium to longer term. We talk our clients through the options open to them and how and when to put their plans into action. Sometimes the knowledge of having an exit strategy (even if you cannot instigate it straightaway) is enough to reduce the tension and anxiety which may be making the home situation worse.

Lastly, there is the difficulty in complying with the legal period of “separation” required to file a divorce petition on a non-fault-based ground. If the two of you have no option but to live under the same roof – due to the current restrictions, you may need to understand how to maintain separate households, within the same dwelling, so that in the future you can divorce as amicably (and perhaps as quickly) as possible. The law in this area is fact specific so it is wise to take advice on the best ways to ensure that you do not “lose” any time whilst you may believe you are separated during lockdown.

At Viberts we have a dedicated team of family lawyers who are available to assist you in a way that is not only discreet but will allow us to give you answers to many of your questions. The first half an hour of our initial meeting is free of charge and can give you guidance in terms of the next steps that you take.

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