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Weightmans sees divorce enquiries spike as lockdown measures ease

Experts at law firm Weightmans offer reassurance to couples seeking to split as they see a 45% jump in divorce enquiries in just one month.

Divorce enquiries have jumped by 45% in one month 

Financial difficulties and relationship problems due to close confinement could be to blame for spike in enquiries

As lockdown guidance allows for more freedom, many couples are making the decision to permanently separate following reflection or testing times during the quarantine period.

Financial difficulties, frustration and an amplification of relationship worries due to an increased amount of time together are just some of the reasons for the increase in demand. Weightmans has ensured capacity to accommodate spikes in applications and the family court is rolling out online processes, and starting to reopen for some hearings. Those seeking formal separation should feel reassured that they can progress as normal, says Partner and Head of Private Client at Weightmans, Emma Collins (pictured). 

She said:

“There has been a definite increase in demand for divorce that we can track across the last few months – as lockdown measures have eased across the UK, enquiries have increased significantly. These will fall into three categories; relationships turned sour due to lockdown, those who have been separated a while but are now prompted to go ahead, and those for whom the coronavirus is incidental and would have happened anyway.

“Given that anecdotally the summer months tend to be quieter for new cases, I would say that the impact of lockdown cannot be underestimated and that many of these new enquiries will be as a direct or indirect result of the pandemic. It hasn’t just been divorce cases – we have also seen a surge in child disputes in recent weeks which again, is likely to be linked to issues over the last few months.

“I don’t foresee this being the only peak – with ‘no fault’ divorce legislation having now received royal assent, it will probably be a year before this comes into force. So we envisage another spike in demand next year as some couples may choose to wait until they can proceed on a no fault basis.

“Those looking to commence divorce proceedings should not be deterred by any perceived restrictions – the digitisation of the process has meant that we have largely been able to support our couples through their cases with minimal disruption. Although some couples may face delays if contested court proceedings are required whilst the court is working through a backlog of cases, alternative methods of dispute resolution can be used.”

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