One of the unexpected outcomes of COVID-19

  • 3 mins read

Empty supermarket shelves, virtual meetings, a reduction in co2 emissions, schools closing, severe financial impact on individuals and businesses alike, self-isolation, and a sadly rapidly increasing death rate are all some of the outcomes we were warned about. But as a family lawyer, the press about the potential effect of these outcomes on relationships at home caught my eye. This quote from Baroness Shackleton, comes just days after news of an apparent spike in divorce rates in parts of China, after couples were forced to spend time together trying to prevent the spread of this new enemy. 

As a family solicitor, I often see clients who want advice about their options but don't necessarily want to break-up or they are not quite sure the way the road is turning. It is an important part of our role to ask questions, and give clients the guidance and tools they need to make informed choices and signpost them to services who might be able to help. 

It is important that anyone finding the strain too much takes time to speak to someone - whether that be a friend, family member or other professional - couple's therapy, coaching, mediation are just a few of the options that are available to individuals who are facing relationship worries. 

Living in close proximity with any person for a prolonged period, even those you love might be taxing at times, so when coupled with other pressures like financial worries and having the children at home bored, it is inevitable that things might get tough. Be honest with each other about how you are feeling, consider using a separate part of the house if you are working from home, and consider having a rota for taking care of any children so you can both still get your work done, whilst we are still allowed - go for walks and exercise, and continue to be patient with each other. If you do feel the need to argue, take time out and keep in mind that any children will be negatively impacted if they can hear.  

The reality is that if COVID-19 leads to a break-up, it is likely to be because of a number of other underlying issues have come to the surface. If you do decide to separate, legally there is no rush to get divorced or have your civil partnership dissolved.  It is however important to think carefully about when you separate - for example if you separate before the end of the tax year you will only have a matter of weeks to transfer assets between you tax free.

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