What has happened?
A recent survey conducted by You Gov revealed that 34% of British married couples are less likely to begin divorce proceedings during the coronavirus pandemic.
What does this mean?
In the current context of the pandemic, the cost of divorce has resulted in many couples considering other options. The average cost of divorce including legal fees,the division of assets and childmaintenance paymentis atleast £22,000. For this reason, 52% of those who have thought about divorce did not think they could afford it.There are a number of financial costs couples wanting to divorce must consider.
Legal fees are a main concern for many, 32% stated it is putting them off getting divorced, as many believe solicitor fees amount to more than they initially anticipated.The division of assets between couples is another area of financial contention,39% of those surveyed were worried they would not be able to afford living alone, this is highlighted by many pre-pandemic divorce valuations reducing by up to 30%. This is because, investments, pensions and properties have all dramatically reduced in value.
As a result of the financial cost and loss many couples would incur by getting divorced other options are being explored. 41% of those exploring the traditional route of divorce are resorting to friends and family to borrow money from to fund their divorce.20% of those surveyed are getting a divorce online from the gov.uk website for the price of £550. Fewer people explore this route because, of what some lawyers describe as a “genuine lack of knowledge and understanding about using an alternative to courts”.However, when filing for divorce online it is still advised that those considering this route should consult a solicitor.
How does this impact the legal sector?
Solicitors and Family Courts have had to adapt greatly to meet the needs of those considering divorce.Solicitors particularly have become more flexible to meet their client’s needs by, using remote mediums from video calls to WhatsApp, particularly with many confined to their homes. Divorce petitions are still being accepted by the courts through email and online portal and petitions continue to be issued by the court however; delays should be expected. The advice of many lawyers has been for couples to wait if possible before proceeding with divorce.