January is generally regarded by the public at large as the most popular month for divorce.
Family Lawyer’s will tell you that one of the reasons for this is because parents often hold back from divorce before Christmas, get the festivities out of the way, and then take the plunge.
This year the whole picture is more complicated. The Pandemic has changed so many things, not least the patterns of our life.
Most couples will have seen far more of their other half over the last 10 months. This may or may not have worked out well.
Cynically, in the light of this, you might expect more separations as familiarity breeds gradually breeds contempt.
This year, although it is early days, initial signs are that the usual rules may not apply and there might not be the usual flood of seasonal cases. Maybe a lot of people are focussing on trying to keep afloat from a financial perspective rather than making things more stressful by separating.
But putting the time of the year issue to one side is this a good time to separate anyway? What there is very little of, at the moment, is certainty. In fact the effect of the Pandemic has meant that these might be the most uncertain times any of us have lived through.
Uncertainty can make the decision to divorce more difficult for a number of reasons;
- At the best of times divorce is unsettling for children of all ages. When you add in the current confused outlook for schooling and the fact that relationships with their friends have become more difficult it is difficult to see how this is a good time to add more problems
- For most people the matrimonial home is the most valuable asset. For the last few months house prices have been increasing, helped by the suspension of LBTT ( the Scottish version of Stamp Duty). It is difficult to believe that this rosy picture will continue. Trying to sell the home may well become more difficult and take longer. The number of people able to obtain a mortgage to allow them to buy will likely fall as the furlough situation unwinds and the true level of employment becomes clearer.
- If one of the assets is a Personal Pension how do you obtain a fair valuation if the stock market is fluctuating wildly? Matrimonial assets are valued on the date of separation so the result may be a bit of a lottery.
- Many people have remained in employment. Many others, particularly the self employed and those in the hospitality industry, have seen their incomes radically reduce or in some cases disappear. How can you plan to support two households if the employment situation is unclear.
Some people have to separate. It is simply not possible to continue living with the other person for a moment longer.
For many others the uncertainty will mean that they have to plan far more carefully to ensure that the divorce does not make things a lot worse.
Family Lawyers are there to provide advice. In these troubling times, before you rush into an uncertain future, consult your Family Lawyer and talk the whole thing through.