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The Family Law Implications of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Guest post by Beecham Peacock Solicitors

Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels

The current COVID-19 situation has already had far-reaching implications in many aspects of our lives, however, one aspect of its long-term impact which has so far gone under the radar is its effect on family dynamics. As experts in family law, this is a question currently on our minds as we look to the future; the enormity of this situation is making itself felt in every area of our society, and our family lives are no different. From employment to family relationships to wills and estate planning, the lockdown and virus are having and will likely continue to have a heavy impact on the way we live as families.


Family Disputes

The strain placed on families thanks to being unable to leave their homes can cause issues – and for those who were already experiencing difficulty, the current situation can exacerbate things. With families who are stuck in the home together for long periods, underlying disputes can worsen and new problems arise from the forced proximity and the stress of the current pandemic.


Domestic Abuse

A recent New York Times article highlights another concern for families and couples in lockdown: domestic abuse has risen hugely since lockdown has begun globally, with many charities struggling to keep up with the increase in calls. The lockdown situation gives many no respite from domestic abuse situations and greatly worsens the impact of abusive relationships.

If you are trapped in an abusive relationship or know someone who may be suffering from domestic abuse, please see the UK Government’s page on domestic abuse for full information and available charities.


Child access

A key area of family law we are currently finding has been impacted by the pandemic situation is child access disputes. These can be made more complex and difficult due to the lockdown restrictions caused by the pandemic; official government advice permits a child under the age of 18 to move between households if parents are separated, but many concerned parents are refusing to hand over the child because of health concerns.


While we understand the concerns of parents in these situations, you must understand the full legal ramifications of what you are doing. For full legal advice and services based on your situation, contact a professional Family Law firm to ensure you don’t end up falling foul of the law.


Divorce

Another key area of family law affected by the lockdown will likely be divorce rates. In China, where lockdown restrictions have only recently been lifted, divorce cases have risen steeply. With couples under enforced quarantine together across China for two months, many were struggling to cope with being cooped up with their spouses for an extended period and filed for divorce as soon as the quarantine was over.


Annually, the two highest points of the year in terms of UK divorce rates are typically January and August. The increases in divorce filings at these times of year are commonly due to the holiday periods preceding them; the increased time spent together for many couples worsens or breaks an already fractured relationship. Because of this and with the precedent set by China, we are fully expecting an increase in divorce filings once the quarantine is lifted.


High-profile lawyers have echoed a similar sentiment: Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia, whose previous clients included the Duke of York and Sir Paul McCartney, addressed the House of Lords saying that “The prediction amongst divorce lawyers is that following self-imposed confinement it is very likely that the divorce rate will rise.”


Whilst options are currently limited with the lockdown in effect, many divorce lawyers are still currently available to discuss your situation and begin making arrangements if this is something you wish to take place at the earliest opportunity.


Employment

The unprecedented economic impact of Coronavirus will be lasting and difficult to manage and has the potential to be hugely damaging to a large number of families who rely on workers who have now been dismissed from their jobs. However, the law is on the side of workers who may have been wrongly dismissed or treat unlawfully during the pandemic; if you feel you have a case, contact a professional employment law firm to discuss your situation and determine if there is a legal claim you can make.


Beecham Peacock Solicitors Newcastle is a law firm located in the city centre of Newcastle upon Tyne. As a leading law firm in the UK, Beecham Peacock solicitors provide expert help and advice for a variety of legal problems including family law and employment law matters, ensuring every one of our clients receive the very best possible legal representation.

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