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Top tips for coping with separation or divorce during lockdown

30 April 2020 | Rachel Pritchard

On 23 March 2020, the Prime Minister took the unprecedented step to put the UK into lockdown to stop the threat of Coronavirus.  This led to families being asked to stay at home and where possible work from home. 

Such isolation and spending more time than ever with your partner and immediate household is stressful enough when your relationship isn’t under strain, but when you are mid-way through a separation or divorce this stress can be even more challenging.

If you are still living together, or “locking down” together you may feel you have no escape to your support network or even your place of work.  If you have managed to physically separate the process of resolving things may have slowed a little as courts move to remote hearings and are prioritising the most urgent applications and appointments.

If you are in the middle of a separation or divorce here are some top tips to help you navigate the situation: –

Reliable sources of information about separation and divorce

There is a lot of information online about the impact Coronavirus is having on divorce and separation. Some resources are better than others. Having the right information will reassure you as to what may happen next. At Gregg Latchams we offer an online questionnaire that can be completed in your own time, saving the information as you go which you can edit if you need to. It will provide you with some general advice and guidance instantly about your individual situation. It also means you can make progress without having to find a corner of the house to have an awkward conversation with your lawyer, within earshot of your partner or children. 

If you have started the legal process, keep in touch with your solicitor. At Gregg Latchams our family solicitors are working remotely and set up for keeping in touch with our clients by phone, email and video conferencing. We have been offering these methods of communication to clients who live further away from our offices for many years. It means we can continue to act for you, provide you with reassurance and progress your case as much as we can during the lock-down period.

Alternative ways to resolve separation and divorce matters

The Coronavirus has given many of our clients pause for thought and now may be the time to revisit alternative ways of resolving matters.

Mediation – Mediators are working remotely using video conferencing facilities to mediate and the benefit of some platforms is the mediator can mute all participants if one party insists on speaking over the other. Breakout rooms can also be used to take a ‘time out’ and the mediator can join you in those rooms to listen and speak with you.

Arbitration – This process can be used to determine a discreet issue such as is an asset a matrimonial asset or used in place of a final hearing to determine the outcome. Specific issues can be dealt by paper and, of course, face-to-face meetings can take place using online platforms as a time to suit you and your partner.

Take time out from thinking about your separation or divorce

The temptation for everyone in lock-down is to start working earlier and finish later, after all you may have saved your commuting time! But, as we are all encouraged to make sure we take time out of work, start when you would if you were in the office, finish when you would normally finish and take that lunch hour.  Take time out from discussing your separation or divorce, whether you are together or apart.  Try to avoid the constant dialogue about the issues, avoid sending constant messages to each other.  Instead, if possible, look at allocating some time in the week to discuss anything you need to regarding the separation and if you are fortunate enough to have home office or allocated work space, maybe have the conversation to keep it as separate as you can from the rest of the house.

Separation and divorce paperwork

Most clients feel like the process of separating/divorce is akin to being back at school.  Your solicitor will be setting you “homework” – filling in forms, collating bank statements, keeping a diary. Use this time to do all those things you struggled to complete before.  Download those bank and credit card statements, and email your pension company. Get everything ready and send it to your solicitor so you can hit the ground running following the end of lockdown.

Professional separation and divorce help

Your friends and family were your support network before lock-down. You escaped to their houses for a coffee, you socialised with them to give you that break. Of course, you can keep in touch with them via social media, telephone, text, email and so on. However, if you really are struggling, speak to a professional. Divorce coaches and counsellors were using online resources to offer their services long before lock-down and they continue to do so. With the stress of a relationship breakdown added to your new day-to-day stresses now may be the right time to get that professional help.

Specialist divorce lawyers

Don’t forget we are here for you, to advise, represent and support you through your case. To contact our team of specialist divorce lawyers in Bristol or London, please call 0117 906 9400 or email enquiries@gregglatchams.com

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

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