Coronavirus and Its Effect on Family Law

Mother Helping Child Put On A Mask

The advent of COVID-19 as a global pandemic has disrupted the life of each and every person all over the world. It has changed the way we socialise or work. It has caused a number of mental illnesses in people whether they were infected by COVID-19 or not. The families, their environment and work system have got affected in multiple ways and thus has affected the UK’s family laws.

The court staff, the judges, the solicitors and all the other people associated with the working of the family law courts have worked and are working dedicatedly to keep the wheels of the courts moving. They realise how important it becomes at times such as these for people to have access to family courts to help resolve their issues.

COVID-19 and Divorce

For the couples who were having a rough ride in their relationship since some time, might have gone through an even rougher time now that they are not able to go out and socialise with friends and colleagues to keep the negative environment at bay. This could have resulted in more number of arguments or dissatisfaction in the relationship. Thus, we see a rise in divorce rates.

The Divorce Dissolution and Separation Bill got its assent in June 2020, which gives another option for “no-fault” divorce apart from separation (2 years). However, it won’t be made available until the fall of 2021.

The pandemic has given more work to an already overworked family justice system. Before the pandemic, if child care and finances were sorted, a couple was getting a divorce within 6 months or so. While now, this time frame has been increased to 12 months. A decree nisi is also taking at least 20 weeks to get processed.

COVID-19 and domestic abuse

A similar trend to divorce cases can be seen in domestic abuse cases as well. The courts have dealt with a record number of domestic abuse cases during this COVID-19 pandemic. Looking and comparing with the last year’s numbers for the April to June 2019 quarter, the Family Court Statistics for April to June 2020 quarter says, there is an increase of 24% in the number of domestic violence remedy order applications while a 17% increase is seen in the number of orders made. The government’s isolation guidelines have had an adverse effect on the victims of domestic abuse who are now in proximity to their abusers for even more time. The government has realised this issue and made certain arrangements for it. Such as, they have asked the food delivery people to stay alert about the condition and behaviour of people. The government has also realised that since the victim will now not have enough time away from the abuser for much time, so they have made the applications easier to fill and apply.

COVID-19 and Child Arrangements, Child Adoptions

Child arrangements, such as, who is going to spend how much time with the child, their stay etc. are being dealt with similarly except that it is via remote hearing now and may take a bit longer than pre covid times. Earlier it was around 26 weeks nut now it is taking about ten more weeks.

Child adoptions have also, unsurprisingly, taken a hit in this COVID-19 era. The number of cases started in courts for child adoptions has dropped by 24% compared to April to June 2020 quarter to that of the previous year’s quarter. The number of adoption orders issued has also decreased by 52%.

COVID-19 and Financial Settlements

The shadow of the economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19 can be seen in the financial settlements between couples and partners. It impacts property and company valuations, pension fund courses, and a reduction in salaries of people. There is also a question mark on the negotiations that were accepted in the pre covid times which could be with some variations now. For Child maintenance, the court has given some leniency, and thus, you may have to wait to get the money that is owed to you.

The commercial market is enduring a blow from COVID-19 as well. A large number of corporates invest their pension funds in commercial property. But, now since most of the population is working from home, the property prices are taking a hit.

Adjusting to the new normal

Amid this global pandemic which has altered our lifestyle and work style in a short span of time, humankind has found ways to keep the wheels working. And so family and court laws have undergone some changes to keep the need of all the people in check. While it may be little difficult to point out exactly what changes can be seen in the family laws and its implications in our daily lives, you can definitely be sure of Osbourne Pinner to work wholeheartedly to stay updated to keep its clients interests safeguarded. COVID-19 has had an impact on everybody’s life and maybe it is more so on many people’s lives who are going through a tough time in their families. If you find yourself in such a tough spot and you wish to seek divorce or any such help regarding laws, Osbourne Pinner is available 24*7 for you.

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