We are certainly living through difficult and challenging times thanks to the Coronavirus. Whilst it is vital that we follow government guidelines to stay at home, sadly, the enforced lockdown is likely to add to the pressure faced by families who are already suffering relationship difficulties. Being stuck in a house with a partner with whom you are not getting on well at the best of times, may simply be the last straw.
The guidance is clear, for those who are at risk of violence, they can and should leave the house to obtain help. Family refuges remain open for business and the courts remain open, albeit remotely, to offer protection for those who need it.
For those whose relationships, sadly, have come to an end as a result of the additional pressures we all face, help is at hand from specialist family solicitors who will be able to assist in obtaining court orders to protect those who need it, negotiating the terms of a permanent separation, or in obtaining a divorce.
On what basis can you divorce?
Whilst the government is planning to bring in new legislation for no-fault divorce under the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill 2017-2019, progress of the Bill has been halted, courtesy again of Covid-19. It follows, the new legislation is not likely to be implemented any time soon, and certainly not available for those looking for a divorce now.
This means that, at present, anyone who wishes to start divorce proceedings has to demonstrate to the court that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. To do this, they have to show that one of five facts exist (often referred to as the grounds for divorce), including the following:
2 years’ separation with the other parties’ consent;
Desertion for 2 years without justifiable cause;
5 years’ separation.
Whilst committing adultery may be the last thing on your mind during lockdown, the fear is that there will be an increase in bad behaviour, from one spouse to another, but this is likely to justify the issue of divorce proceedings.
Whilst the courts are currently shut for almost all face-to-face hearings, divorce petitions can still be submitted and progress made towards obtaining a divorce and settling future arrangements for children and with regard to finances.
Please do not feel that you are alone in this difficult time. We are here to help, support and advise you so do contact us.
This information is given to the best of our knowledge and does not constitute individual legal advice upon which you can rely. The situation relating to Covid-19 is constantly evolving and may have changed since this document was produced. For up to date advice on your own situation, please contact us before taking any action.