The last few months have been unprecedented but as we all start to return to work and school, Family Partner Rebecca Silcock explores how Covid-19 is affecting divorce and the court process.
While we are all starting to resume our daily lives, it is clear that the impact of Covid-19 in terms of back logs and delays will be felt for many months to come. From rescheduling operations to waiting on hold to speak to your bank, we are all being told to be patient and that due to Covid-19 service has not yet returned to normal; the divorce process is no different.
For those waiting for their Decree Nisi delay is difficult and, anyone that issued divorce petitions prior to lockdown are inevitably finding there is a huge back log and the progress of their divorce is slow. Where an agreement has been reached and sent to court for the approval of the judge, wait times vary wildly around the country with some agreements coming back within a couple of weeks and others taking many months.
With so much about delays in the press it is really important that those who have decided a relationship is over are not put off making plans to divorce and move forward.
Introducing the online portal
In an attempt to reduce the backlog and speed up the process the courts have introduced a new online portal system which allows people to issue divorce petitions and seek approval for financial agreements all online.
So far, those who have issued divorce petitions post lockdown using the new online portal have found the process much quicker. In addition, it will soon become compulsory for financial agreements to be sent to the court via the portal and the hope is that these will also be dealt with far more quickly.
Unfortunately those have had already issued paper petitions the online portal is not an option but it is hoped that by new applicants using the online portal that this will help to take the pressure of the existing postal system and speed the process up overall.
What about those disputes that need the court?
Where people are reliant on the court to help resolve their disputes the availability of court hearings very much depends upon the nature of the problem. The courts have been prioritising urgent children or domestic violence cases and holding virtual hearings.
However the position is very different for financial matters, with these cases sometimes not being listed for many months. This can be a real issue for those who need financial resolution and importantly closure.
Alternatives to court
Don’t let the potential delays put you off ending a relationship if that is what is best for you and your family. There are many other ways of trying to resolve matters such as mediation or meeting around a table in a collaborative way. Whilst this is not a solution for everyone it is generally a far better option and usually produces a more creative and bespoke solution for each family than a court could achieve.
If you are considering a divorce, please get in touch today and speak to our experts, who can help you understand the process and choose an option best suited to you. Contact Rebecca Silcock on 01225 750 000 or email Rebecca.email@example.com