The government restrictions imposed on everyone since March 2020 will undoubtedly lead to a rise in those wishing to call time on their relationship with their partner.
Earlier in the pandemic, we as family lawyers noted a worrying rise in domestic abuse enquiries and a rise in enquiries from parents seeking the right to see their children. Some parents were using social distancing rules and Covid travel restrictions as an excuse for keeping their children apart from the absent parent.
The economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic, which has led to furloughing, permanent job losses, volatility in the financial markets, which has had its effect on the housing market, pensions and investments and the value of our businesses, has placed immense strain on couples battling to keep everything together whilst also trying to wrestle with the added complication of having to adapt to educate their children at home. The discrepancy in the imbalance of power between couples become more keenly felt when one partner loses a job or takes on an increased responsibilities of working full time whilst also having to combine this with household duties and child care arrangements. For some couples, that strain has been intolerable.
The lack of opportunity to go out and socialise with other people has meant that many couples have had to fulfil all the social, emotional and intellectual needs of the other party and have found this frustrating. For some, this strain will have caused irreparable damage to the relationship.
Life at home may have become more unbearable by the loss of a loved one due to Covid or the trauma of having to endure the death of a loved one without being able to support them in hospital, care home or hospice towards the end of their life.
The boredom of remaining at home for long periods has led to a rise in alcohol and drugs misuse or other risk-taking behaviours as a coping mechanism. Whilst this behaviour may be a transient issue for others; if this pattern of behaviour becomes entrenched, it could lead to problems in the relationship.
A rise in mental health issues is undoubtedly having a huge impact on the breakdown of many relationships.
We are also seeing a rise in enquiries from those couples who have already been through a divorce and are unable to comply with financial orders made by the Family Court due to the way that Covid restrictions have affected their business and their ability to afford to pay spousal maintenance and lump sum orders. Consequently, we are advising a great deal more clients in relation to these particular issues, and we are involved in litigation involving applications to enforce or vary financial orders.
As restrictions are eased, we are also observing a rise in enquiries relating to pre-nuptial agreements for those couples who have had to cancel their weddings in 2020 and are planning to reschedule later in 2021 or 2022. Pre-nuptial agreements are key to protecting wealth accumulated prior to marriage.
The Family Team at Myerson are also members of Resolution and are committed to resolving matters constructively by agreement where possible. However, sometimes agreements cannot be reached, and court proceedings need to be issued to resolve disputes. If you would like to speak to a member of our Team, please call 0161 941 4000 or email the Family Law team