Since 2019, there have been over 100,00 divorces in the UK, with the pandemic putting even more relationships under intense strain. In a recent survey conducted by University College London, almost 18,000 of those who responded stated their relationship with their partner or spouse had deteriorated during lockdown. Some blamed the stress of the pandemic, while others suggested it resurrected old problems. Lockdown simply fast-tracking the expiry date of their relationship.
Juggling childcare, household chores, worrying about health and finances all whilst working from home has left many navigating a domestic crisis with little or no outside support. As lockdown restrictions eased, Citizens Advice saw a 14% increase in views of its divorce advice pages from the previous year, most notably surrounding the costs involved.
Lockdown has been the catalyst many needed to jump-start the separation process, forcing them to face problems within their relationship because they were unable to run away from them.
Everyone who wants to get a divorce must pay an application fee of £550 to the court. For some, just this initial cost can be prohibitive from the outset. Support is available in the form of fee or partial fee exemptions for those on benefits or low incomes. However, the fear of other costs associated with divorce prevents people from getting the best advice.
The importance of getting appropriate legal advice
When people fail to obtain legal advice, it can end up costing them more trying to correct costly mistakes. Solicitors can help people avoid court and those trained in mediation and collaborative law can often negotiate a fair division of the matrimonial assets without the need to go to court. Early advice can help people separate the emotions arising from the pain of splitting up and their finances. The idea of fairness can become fraught when one spouse is adamant their former partner is made to pay financially for any emotional pain they’ve caused. A solicitor provides the breathing space needed by dealing with such things in a level-headed way, easing the stress and anxiety involved in the divorce process.
Whilst undertaking your own divorce may seem attractive from a costs perspective, it isn’t suitable for everyone. Couples who have assets to divide, such as the matrimonial home or pensions, and arrangements for children which cannot be agreed, by their very nature are much more complex, and are unsuitable for DIY divorces and clients then need a Financial Remedy Order to set out the division of assets and deal with the financial claims each party has.
How can we help?
At Pinney Talfourd, all our family team professionals are members of Resolution, which is a community of family lawyers who work to resolve issues in a non-confrontational and constructive way. The team includes Resolution Accredited Specialists, Family Law Panel Members and Collaborative lawyers who are all committed to finding creative and tailored solutions to unique family issues.
We provide initial free consultations at our Upminster, Hornchurch, and Brentwood offices. We also provide fixed fee appointments at our Leigh-on-Sea and Canary Wharf branches and can offer fixed fee divorces in certain cases.
To find out more about divorce, please contact our family team here.
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of September 2021.