Spike in couples experiencing marital difficulties

On behalf of Attwaters Jameson Hill posted in Family Law on Friday, April 3rd, 2020

We are living in exceptional times; times that are forcing us to stay at home almost around the clock to curb the spread of coronavirus and save lives. During this crisis, the heightened stress and anxiety that many people are feeling, as well as the effects of prolonged self-isolation, have led celebrity divorce lawyer, Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia, to predict that a surge in marriage breakdowns is “very likely”.

In this blog, we take a look at how couples currently going through a divorce are being affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, and offer some advice to help struggling couples maintain a healthy relationship and weather the storm together.


Separation during a pandemic

Divorce is one of the most stressful life events a person will endure – and this is during normal times. Couples who are already in the middle of divorce or separation proceedings will therefore be concerned about the progression of their case while emergency coronavirus measures persist, and how long it will be before they can move on with their lives.

Currently, disruption to the family courts caused by social distancing measures is causing a certain amount of delay, but cases are being dealt with as quickly as possible while still following government rules. Child welfare cases are currently being given priority in court, with financial cases being dealt via virtual hearings, over the phone, or by private Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) in order to avoid court altogether.


Surviving self-isolation: guidance for couples

Living and working together in a confined space will surely be a challenge to many, if not most, couples for as long as self-isolation continues – but there are things you can do to get through this time together and avoid a relationship breakdown.

Communication is key
Keep communication and dialogue flowing between you, to keep tabs on how you are both feeling. It’s very important to discuss your thoughts and anxieties with your partner, rather than keeping them bottled up – this can lead to resentment and arguments in the long run.

Give each other space
This may be harder if you live in a small house or flat, but using separate rooms to work and pursuing separate hobbies and interests could help you both get the alone time you need, which you would usually get through being at work or socialising with your respective friendship groups.

Stay connected
Humans are social beings – we weren’t built to stay inside with only one or two people for company. To avoid too much time together, make sure you also stay connected with your family and friends, using apps such as Skype, Facetime, WhatsApp or Zoom to get your fill of social interaction.

Access support
Support is available to help you maintain your mental health and wellbeing and keep your relationship moving during troubled times. Relate offers relationship counselling services via telephone, while Mind and the Mental Health Foundation have both issued some tips for looking after your mental health during the crisis.


Sensitive, caring family lawyers

Unfortunately, some couples who were already struggling, or those who have been unable to weather the storm of COVID-19 together, may still decide that separation or divorce is the only option. If this should happen, you’ll need Family Law experts to guide you through the very different legal landscape we are currently inhabiting.
For clear, compassionate advice, please email us at familylaw@attwaters.co.uk or call 0330 221 8855.


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