I handle client divorce cases all day every day. It is my daily diet. There is the divorce itself, the dissolution, the concluding of a marriage. Some have been years in the making, others represent a short lived union, either way they have arrived in the same place.
Alongside the divorce come other disputes: What will happen to the house? What about the business? How do we deal with pensions? These are financial related concerns of course, and when we put those to one side, we might discover problems related to gaining agreements over the children: Who will my sons live with? When can I spend time with my daughter? How do we resolve the division of our children’s time when we are so far apart in our approaches?
These issues do not conveniently disappear in a pandemic, they remain very live issues, and in some cases the pandemic has forced spouses to evaluate the future sustainability of their marriages where this might not otherwise have happened. The situation of spouses having been locked-down in the same household with one another, 24 hours a day for weeks on end, would after all test the strongest and closest of marriages. Where the marriage teetered before the pandemic, the chances are that it is now weighed considerably by the strain of discontent. Accordingly, our locked-down phase will have brought divorce to the forefront of many minds. Perhaps even where it was not on the radar beforehand.
As a divorce practitioner, I am unsurprisingly noticing a number of new approaches for starting the process of divorce. Almost always the first questions following these approaches have been to ask “I am able to divorce at the moment? Do I have to wait until Covid-19 is over?” The short answer to these questions is “No. We are working normally, it is business as usual. You can still have a divorce.”
This really is the case. We are delivering a regular service. The divorce court is operating as it always has, and family law practitioners are working as they did before any of us had even heard of Covid-19. Some client-solicitor appointments are taking place a little differently, there might be a greater number of appointments occurring via video call or telephone, but these methods, we have discovered in recent weeks, work perfectly well. At Ison Harrison we also envisage being in a position to offer face to face appointments in the near future, but safety measures will be available to provide all concerned with relevant virus protection.
Helpfully, we are not noticing a change in timescales for divorce at the moment, and the situation appears to be one of efficient operation. There really is on this basis no reason for a spouse to feel that starting or continuing the process of divorce might prove logistically difficult, and should be better approached after the pandemic has ended. If you are therefore thinking of divorce, and wish to learn more about the process, gain a sense of what to expect, or receive an estimate of the costs involved, then please make a call to our family team. We offer a friendly, professional and confidential service, and are always happy to speak to prospective clients. #HereWhenYouNeedU
Sarah Laughey is a Partner and experienced Family Law Solicitor located at our Wharfedale branch offices of Ilkley, Otley and Guiseley. Sarah assists clients local to the branch offices, but also handles a number of cases where clients are located in other parts of the country and abroad. Sarah can be contacted on 01943 889 107 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org