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Is there going to be a spike in divorce cases when lockdown ends?

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Walker Family Law
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Is there going to be a spike in divorce cases when lockdown ends?

Ever since the country entered into lockdown there have been warnings about the effect of lockdown on relationships, and the possibility that when it finally ends there will be a spike in divorce cases. Now Citizens Advice have added their voice to those warnings, reporting that there has been a significant increase in views of its webpage containing advice on getting a divorce.

But will there really be a ‘divorce boom’ when lockdown ends? Let’s look a little closer…


Domestic abuse Divorce highlighted

Clearly, lockdown may mean that many people will have to spend more time at home with their spouse, and this could lead to strains in relationships, and ultimately marriage breakdown.

It could also lead to an increase in domestic abuse, as has already been pointed out in many quarters.

But if you are trapped at home with an abuser you do not have to suffer in silence, just because of lockdown. Help is available – contact us for details, using the link at the end of this post.


The length of lockdown

We have now been in lockdown, in one form or another, for nearly six months, and there is no end in sight. In fact, restrictions upon our lives are being re-imposed. It is looking like it will be many more months before we return to normal.

The sheer length of lockdown, and the stresses it involves, could well be damaging relationships beyond repair. It could therefore be that the longer the lockdown, the more likely there will be an increase in divorces.


Access to the court and a lawyer

Parents in divorce with kid in middle


But any increase in divorces does not have to wait until lockdown ends.

Lockdown may have affected our courts, with social distancing rules reducing access to court, and the number of physical court hearings taking place. But the courts remain open, and in any event in most divorces it is not necessary to go to court – much of the process now being dealt with online.

And you can still access legal advice. Ian Walker Family Law and Mediation Solicitors offer a full service, having remained open throughout the pandemic, when necessary advising remotely.

Lack of access to the court or a lawyer should not be a reason to delay divorce until lockdown ends.


No need to wait?


It is actually quite difficult to imagine a scenario whereby the lockdown is completely preventing anyone from getting divorced, other than perhaps because they can only ‘deal with one problem at a time’. Estranged spouses often have to share the same household, even in ‘normal’ times, and lockdown isn’t physically preventing anyone from either issuing divorce proceedings, or obtaining legal advice.

Perhaps the most likely issue may be the economic effects of lockdown. Lockdown, or at least the pandemic, has had huge economic implications, adding to the uncertainty of the financial outcome of the divorce. Admittedly, there may be cases where it may be worth waiting until the pandemic is over before issuing divorce proceedings, for example where a particular matrimonial asset has dropped significantly in value, but such cases are likely to be few and far between.



Man taking wedding ring off divorce

The answer to the question as to whether there will be a spike in divorces after lockdown is of course that we will have to wait and see. Current (admittedly anecdotal) evidence appears to suggest that there has been no particular increase in the number of divorces being issued during lockdown, but one has to ask: how many people are actually being stopped from divorcing because of lockdown? Looking at things in a little more detail suggests that there are not very many.

Needless to say, if you are considering issuing divorce proceedings and are undecided as to whether you issue the proceedings now, then you should first seek expert legal advice. We can provide you with that advice – to find out more, and to get started with one of our specialist lawyers, click here.