Following Coronavirus self-isolation, the number of divorce applications in China has risen significantly because 'couples are spending too much time together at home', according to registry offices. So much so, one city even had to impose a limit so that no more than 10 couples could get divorced in a day.
When interviewed for Glamour Magazine about whether he thought the UK would follow suit; Kiran Beeharry had one clear, positive message in response to predictions of increased numbers of divorce in the UK following quarantine: Stay optimistic.
"I'm actually somewhat surprised to read that there is a belief that divorce in the UK is likely to increase," says Kiran Beeharry, Partner in the Family Department at SA Law.
"I am not certain that there is any tangible evidence that a long period of isolation will automatically lead to a spike in divorce numbers. Where there are already tensions in a relationship these could be exposed during a period of lockdown, but I prefer to take a more optimistic view about society where there will be an outbreak of kindness."
Read the full interview featuring comments by Kiran Beeharry and others on glamourmagazine.co.uk on how can we keep our relationships happy and healthy during these particularly fraught and stressful times.
I appreciate though that for those who are already in divorce proceedings that this will lead to an unsettling period. The immediate impact of the pandemic may be particularly concerning to those already in the following proceedings, so it is important to be aware of certain implications:
1. Domestic Violence and Occupation rights
In ordinary circumstances where there is a “significant risk of harm” you are able to explore injunctive orders seeking the removal of your partner from a shared home. However the Courts may have a more challenging task in weighing up the risk of harm exposed to you living together and against expelling one from their home and putting them at risk of the virus. Read more about domestic violence during the Coronavirus pandemic and guidance for what actions you can take here.
2. Maintenance provisions
Certain sectors of the economy are already facing redundancy risks and so for many there is likely to be a concern about paying maintenance. Where jobs and income are lost there is likely to be an increase in the number of applications to vary maintenance down by the payer or capitalisation of claims by payees, which both parties should be prepared for. Read more about maintenance here.
The critical aspect to reaching financial settlement through divorce is based on having accurate valuations of businesses, financial portfolios and other assets and thereafter tax reports. With the economy likely to take a hit it may well be that assets have to be re-valued and strategies re-assessed within your divorce case. Read Kiran’s comments on finances here.
4. Child arrangements
During the period of lockdown, for parents who are already separated they may worry what arrangements will be in place to see children they spend time with. Read our guidance here