Divorce and Financial Matters during Covid 19

Going through a divorce and trying to negotiate a financial settlement with your estranged spouse can be stressful at the best of times.  The Covid 19 pandemic has caused financial turbulence within the economy and continues to have a far-reaching impact upon employees, businesses, the stock exchange and the property market.

How does this affect my matrimonial finances?

The financial consequence of Covid 19 is that most assets are likely to have decreased in value. Therefore, if you were close to reaching a financial settlement before the pandemic you should obtain up to date valuations of your assets to avoid negotiating using inflated valuations.

In addition, if you had not already made a mortgage application prior to Covid 19, the significant changes made by major banks to their lending criteria, is likely to mean that your borrowing potential will have changed.  This is significant if you were intending to remortgage to pay your estranged spouse a lump sum as part of the settlement or purchase a new home for yourself with the assistance of a mortgage.

Your income may have been detrimentally affected as a result of Covid 19. You may have been made redundant, laid off or furloughed. You therefore may need to consider the need for urgent spousal maintenance.

What if I have already started financial proceedings? Will the next court hearing still go ahead?

If you have already started divorce proceedings and have been trying to resolve financial matters before Covid 19, you may be worried that matters are going to grind to a halt during lockdown. Fortunately, this is not the case. Whilst courts are closed to face to face hearings, measures have been implemented to deal with court hearings remotely and many remote hearings have been successfully taking place.

If your court hearing date is coming up, the hearing is likely to be dealt with by telephone, skype, video link or even on paper where appropriate through written representations sent by the parties’ legal representatives.

Should your Financial Dispute Resolution hearing (FDR) be listed in the next few weeks/months, an option to have the hearing conducted ‘privately’ rather than through the courts has been suggested. Both parties will need to agree to this method. A private FDR is a hearing held at a barristers’ chambers with a senior barrister being the ‘private judge.’ Due to the current public health emergency, the hearing would still need to be held remotely and both parties will need to be available to speak with their legal representative by telephone.

 

What about my divorce? Will that still progress during lockdown?

The courts are still operating and are prioritising applications for decrees absolute.

If you would like to talk to someone, please contact any of our offices.