Relationship breakdown in a pandemic #SolicitorChat with The Law Society.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, many couples may have had time to consider the future of their relationship. We discussed the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the divorce and civil partnership dissolution process and how a solicitor can guide a separating couple through it. We discussed this and more during #SolicitorChat.

Join The Law Society and other firms discussing a different topic each week on Thursday mornings at 0900-1000.

Can couples still apply for a divorce or civil partnership dissolution during the pandemic? How do these processes now differ?

Yes, you can still apply for a Divorce, civil partnership dissolution, financial and children orders during this time. The main difference has been the shift to remote hearings to ensure cases still move forwards and progress is made for the parties. The Courts are listing urgent hearings (usually remotely) in a prompt manner and all other hearings will be listed in accordance with the specific court waiting times. We can now use the online system for the divorce/dissolution process which is more efficient than the paper system. All methods of family dispute resolution remain available remotely. Mundays are able to hold initial appointments remotely.

What steps will a solicitor take you through when applying for a divorce or civil partnership dissolution?

A solicitor will take instructions regarding your circumstances and advise the options available, the next steps to take as well as advising you of the process generally. It is understandable that you will have questions and we will be able to answer these for you.

Has the coronavirus pandemic impacted the timescales for divorce and dissolving civil partnerships? If so, how?

The Courts are experiencing significant delays for paper applications, however, the online system appears to be working efficiently and can be used in most cases for the divorce/dissolution itself. In relation to your financial & children matters, hearings are taking place remotely in most circumstances but some hearings have been adjourned. The backlog within the Court system is growing and clients are considering “private” hearings to avoid this delay.

Why is it important to seek expert advice during the divorce and civil partnership dissolution process, rather than taking a DIY approach?

Important to understand the legal implications of decisions you are making and options available. Also important to ensure you are fully protected against any future claims from your ex-spouse/civil partner by ensuring any agreement is recorded in a Court order.

What top tips would you give to couples considering a divorce or civil partnership dissolution during the coronavirus pandemic?

Seek early advice from a solicitor to ensure that you understand the issues and complications. Understand what steps need to be taken to protect you and what to expect from the process. Further involvement by your solicitor can be discussed at the initial meeting.

The contents of this article are intended as guidance for readers. It can be no substitute for specific advice. Consequently we cannot accept responsibility for this information, errors or matters affected by subsequent changes in the law, or the content of any website referred to in this article. © Mundays LLP

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