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Divorcing During The Pandemic

Author: Shanni Sandhu & Saima Bibi

As the UK has headed into its third national lockdown, Divorce solicitors are facing many new enquires a day. The frequent questions that are being asked by people are as follows:

“Can I proceed with the divorce during lockdown.” The answer is; “Yes as the Court remains opened and court staff are still processing petitions.”

“Can I leave my partner/ wife/husband during the lockdown.” The answer is; “During the current lockdown, people may feel trapped in their home, however guidelines do not apply if you need to leave your home to escape domestic abuse.”

A spike in divorces during the pandemic was inevitable and expected as the current challenging times are causing significant stress and strain on our relationships as we are suddenly forced to spend more time with our spouse. Furthermore, there is additional tension and pressure of not being able to undertake our normal daily routines and instead we are having to work from home, look after children and face financial worries.

According to Ronen Stilamn, a psychotherapist, strong couples who were not facing problems in their relationships may now be breaking up as a result of the COVID crisis especially as it has taken away “well established routines that offered comfort, stability and rhythm.” He goes on to say that “many people are finding themselves trapped in a situation where they are struggling to cope with what is going on for them as well as what is going on between them. Like a pressure cooker that does not let any pressure out, the lid can eventually pop and the relationship breaks down.”

Reverting back to the financial impact caused by COVID, this again is likely to play a significant role in the number of breakups as people are finding themselves unemployed, furloughed or taking a pay cut. The strain has exposed anxiety, anger and frustration as well as domestic abuse and as a result of the pandemic it has given people to comprehend with what their future holds, and in most cases a divorce was long overdue.

For some people they are afraid to get a divorce because they are worried how they will survive on their own. They believe that staying in a marriage that is making them miserable is far easier, however in the long run it can cause a significant impact on their self-esteem and self-respect. Another reason for staying in an unhappy marriage is because people think their children will suffer if their parents separate. It can be confusing and complicated about knowing what it the right decision when it comes to deciding to stay in a marriage or walking away from it, however it is important that you take time, do your research and overall keep your emotions out of the decision-making.

THE SAFE PLACE

Sadly, where domestic abuse is involved in a marriage, the victim will often blame themselves for the abuse in the relationship. They become vulnerable and scared to speak to someone because they feel ashamed or frightened that it will be reported back to their abuser. This has been emotionally portrayed on the UK’s two biggest soap operas in recent months. If you or anyone else you know is suffering from domestic abuse then seek help. Over the past couple of years, there has been much more awareness and victims are speaking up for themselves.

Furthermore, the government has recently launched a campaign where victims of domestic abuse can ask for help at 2,600 chemists.

By using the codeword “ANI”(Action Needed Immediately) and pronounced as “ANNIE”, it will be acknowledged by the person behind the counter before you are taken into a consultation room.

If you are with the abuser or anyone else, arrangements can still be made to take you into the consultation room on your own before accessing immediate support from the police or a national helpline. NOBLE SOLICITORS CAN HELP YOU Due to the ongoing pandemic, we recognise that it can be difficult for victims to access help and support, and hence if you require advice or assistance, please contact our Family Department in the strictest confidence on 01582 544 370 and ask to speak to Shanni Sandhu/ Senior Associate Solicitor.

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