Having been a family solicitor for almost 16 years now I have witnessed first-hand how crisis’ in society have a knock-on effect on the type of services clients come to us for. The current crisis is no exception. The surge in divorces after Christmas is often spoken about in the media and the forced lockdown of 10 weeks and counting, will certainly have the same effect as being cooped up over Christmas. This is without factoring in the extra pressure of finances with people being furloughed or losing their jobs.
We have also seen anticipated difficulties in contact as perspectives on the guidance as to what to do and what not to do differed between parents who are no longer together. Some of these have been resolved simply through necessity (some parents having to work, others being furloughed and so being able to provide childcare), others have had to resort to enforcement applications.
We have also seen other clients who are engaging our services to prepare cohabitation agreements. One consequence of lockdown has meant either a forced separation meaning plans to move in together have been made ready for when it is lifted or it has accelerated plans to move in together as lockdown commenced. Where weddings have been postponed clients who had planned to have a post nuptial agreement now have the time to enter into a pre-nuptial agreement. We have also had a number of instructions where people have come back to us years after initially seeking advice, with lockdown giving them the opportunity to ponder on life they have decided that now is the time to move on and get a divorce. We have even had clients who have happily reconciled.
Devastatingly there are also people who have been left extremely vulnerable in abusive relationships, forced into lockdown with their abusers. The lockdown rules has given some abusers unfettered access to their victims, and whilst support has remained present throughout from domestic violence services and lawyers, the reality is that this support will be even more difficult to access under pre-existing and current conditions. The message in these circumstances is that there is help out there in many forms.
Whatever your situation, we can help. Please contact any one of our experienced family lawyers for further advice.
COVID-19: In these extraordinary times we recognise how difficult it is to find time to do everything, let alone seek legal advice. This is especially the case where you are living with your partner or spouse and are considering separating, or have your children with you during the day.
Therefore, we are now able to offer flexible telephone appointments to meet your personal needs, whether that is in the evenings, early mornings or weekends as well as our usual office hours. If making that initial call to book an appointment is difficult please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance and we can arrange a meeting by email.