Family matters in unprecedented times

By Liz Orman, family & matrimonial lawyer

As we find ourselves in unprecedented times in this country, many of us still face the challenge of having to deal with divorce, separation and co-parenting whilst we remain in lockdown.  It is very difficult to know how best to move forward when we have no idea how long the current situation will last for.

Whilst not ideal, the current lockdown does not mean that discussions regarding finances cannot continue or indeed commence.  In some cases, the parties will want to try and get on and resolve matters which they had been discussing for months and continue with the progress they have already made.  The basic principles of any settlement as to what should happen to the house, the pensions, maintenance etc are unlikely to change.  The only difference is that the assets in question will need to be re-valued once all of this is over.

Whilst there are no direct face-to-face meetings taking place at this time, solicitors, and indeed mediators, are relying on technology to hold meetings and progress matters. People who have been engaged in negotiations for some time are likely to want to continue to work towards a resolution, despite the obvious practical difficulties this may involve.

In contrast, other parties may understandably not want to rush into settling matters given the financial uncertainty and would prefer to “wait and see” how the land lies once this is all behind us.  For such people, postponing matters for the time being may well be the right option for them.  At the end of the day, given the unique situation, people should be able to make decisions based on their own situation.  How a person may want to deal with matters whilst in lockdown will be a personal preference and  no one size fits all.

Whilst the Court system is still operating, it certainly is not business as usual and the majority of hearings are now being held remotely where they can.  Who knows, this may well be a sign of things to come and will in time make the family court system far more efficient and effective for everyone.

In the event that you need any advice of assistance during these challenging times, the family team at Vanderpump & Sykes of Mark Heselton, Peter Grunberger and Liz Orman are all here to offer you support and advice.