A five-part toolkit for those faced with family breakdown in the lockdown – Part Two

5 May 2020

By Brenda Spain, Head of Family Law team

For me, and my colleagues across the country, being a family lawyer means being there for all the challenges, not just the day in court, and at this time we know it is more important than ever that we are available to advise, encourage and support.

Over the course of this week I am sharing a five-part series of short articles covering various aspects of divorce and separation as well as things to consider especially under the current lockdown.

Today in part two of five I discuss: 

Progressing divorce in the COVID-19 pandemic

The current financial uncertainty is making decision-making difficult, whether for those embarking on divorce or for those who have already made commitments.
Any financial arrangements made in usual circumstances will have a degree of flex built in, but we are presently in extraordinary times, where both
assets and job security will be uncertain.

The starting point for any settlement is to look at assets in the marriage, with shared financial information for bank accounts, investments and other
assets. For those who are part of the way through the process, such figures may have been collected some time ago and already form the basis for a
settlement figure. The impact of the coronavirus on all aspects of the economy, the stock market and the likely downturn in the property market, make
it essential that these are reviewed in the context of any settlement negotiations.

If a Court date has already been set the Court will determine what is to happen, i.e. whether the hearing is to be adjourned or if it will be held remotely
either by telephone or other platform. Insofar as First Hearings in financial cases are concerned, most Courts are encouraging the parties to agree
a way forward and present this by way of a paperwork exercise to the Court.

Where cases are complex, the Court will issue guidance but can proceed by way of video links, or telephone hearings.

It is usual in any divorce settlement to balance risk with absolute value and the professionals will work to ensure no individual ends up with all the
riskier or illiquid assets, but there may be those who have already reached a settlement which no longer seems fair or more importantly is unworkable.
It is important to get guidance as soon as possible, as speed of action is one of the factors considered by the courts, although there is no guarantee
that orders may be amended, even in these exceptional circumstances. The capital elements of any settlement will be amended only where an unforeseen
event invalidates the assumption on which the order was based, and following the 2008 market crash, the Court of Appeal ruled the financial disruption
was not an unforeseen event.

In Wednesday’s feature I will be addressing Maintenance Arrangements, this will be available on our website from 10am tomorrow.


If you would like any further information about our Family Law services, please contact a member of the Family Law team on 01244 356 789 or
email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk.

Please be assured we are open for business, our team are working remotely supporting, helping and advising our clients and we are happy to receive new

Please note:This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.