What does lockdown and the Coronavirus pandemic mean for my divorce or separation? In this blog Family Law in Partnership associate Nicole Phillips answers 5 key questions.
- Can I start a divorce during lockdown?
Yes. Relatively recently the family court introduced a new online application process for divorce as an alternative to the purely paper based system – my comments on this development can be found here.
Most forward-looking firms of solicitors will have enrolled onto the new online system, which enables your solicitor to lodge a divorce petition on your behalf online. We are pleased to report that at present we are not experiencing any delays with the online divorce application process, despite the Covid-19 outbreak.
2. How do I engage a divorce lawyer during lockdown?
Many firms are still open despite the lockdown. Here at FLiP you can contact any one of our solicitors by telephoning our switchboard on +44 (0)20 7420 5000, or by completing our online intake form.
Our online intake form provides an excellent and cost effective means to gather relevant background information from new clients. The result is that time spent at a first meeting can be used as effectively as possible and the solicitor you meet with can cover the points that are most important to you.
Following the engagement process, a first meeting can be arranged between you and your chosen solicitor via videoconferencing software, which many of us have already grown more accustomed to over the lockdown period. If you are nervous about using software to set up a virtual meeting with a solicitor here, we have people on hand at FLiP to guide you through the process.
3. How do I communicate with my lawyer to navigate my divorce/separation smoothly?
Lockdown conditions mean that it could be harder than ever to find a private time to have a conversation with your lawyer. Where an email won’t do, some clients choose to telephone their lawyer during their daily walk, or from their car if they have one. The important point is to ensure the call is private and away from any children at home who might overhear.
4. What if me and my spouse/partner are in lockdown in the same property?
Separating from a spouse or partner tends to be an emotionally and practically challenging time for people, and that is before you consider the additional challenges of a pandemic. For those who are in lockdown with the person they are separating from, it is important to keep relations as cordial as possible to make the process as smooth and painless as it can be.
A number of family consultants, counsellors and mediators are continuing to provide support through online sessions. They provide vital practical and emotional support and information to help those navigating a divorce or separation during this time. At FLiP our in-house counsellor, Jo Harrison, can support you during this difficult time. Further information on our counselling services can be found here.
5. How does valuing our assets work during lockdown?
In order to work out the right financial outcome on divorce it is usually necessary to obtain current market valuations for assets, including the family home. The property market in the UK has for the most part been frozen by the lockdown regulations, which means that obtaining valuations for property has become very difficult. The same is true for many investments. There are a number of ways of navigating these challenges which your solicitor can work through with you. For example, some estate agents are offering virtual valuations as an interim practical solution.
If you would like further information on how we can work together to resolve your family law issues, please contact Nicole Phillips on E: firstname.lastname@example.org or T: 020 7420 5000. Profiles of other members of our talented team of family and divorce lawyers can be found here.