The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every aspect of our daily lives, and the legal process surrounding divorce is no exception.
Under normal circumstances, you must wait at least six weeks between obtaining your decree nisi and your decree absolute – the court-issued document that legally ends your marriage and also brings an end to your divorce proceedings.
During the Coronavirus outbreak, many court sessions have been cancelled, delayed or otherwise affected, and we have seen some people’s expected divorce date pushed back by as much as nine months.
With a long way to go before the courts are running at normal capacity again, these delays are only getting longer. So what can you do to deal with the disruption to your own home and family life?
First and foremost, you are not alone and you are not trapped. Moving house is permitted and throughout the lockdown period, you were always able to leave your home for reasons of personal safety.
With that said, there are some things you can do to put an agreement in place so that you can reduce your stress levels during this difficult time, and potentially bring your divorce date forwards by reducing the amount of time you need in court.
Our mediators are working with separating couples on all kinds of interim measures, to create a routine that works for both parties and complies with the relevant social distancing measures as they continue to change.
This is not a perfect scenario. But by reaching agreement on the things you can agree on, you can check them off the list, leaving fewer disputes to be resolved.
We are recommending a bite-sized approach to negotiations. That might mean temporarily dividing your capital differently if one party is out of work due to the pandemic, or varying how often you handover the children if you want to make fewer non-essential excursions.
Identify the areas where you do not agree, and have a positive, mediated conversation about them. At this time of extreme disruption, it may be worth considering a compromise to provide some clarity and certainty, whether it’s permanent or just as an interim measure.
A mediator’s role is to help you make fast progress with minimal stress, and that fits perfectly into the current climate of high anxiety and lengthy delays.
We can help you:
At the very least, you can expect to save on court costs when it comes to negotiating any remaining issues via litigation, which should also be faster to resolve.
But we aim higher than that, and will do all we can to bring both parties to a mutually acceptable agreement so that when you are ready to move on from your interim arrangement, you can do so without needing court litigation at all.
There is never a good time to face the breakdown of a relationship. But mediators are here so you do not have to face it alone – and as the current pandemic progresses into its later stages, we will continue to offer this crucial support to anyone who needs it.