15 July 2021
Has lockdown had an adverse effect on post separation child arrangements?
Lockdown has contributed to a spike in break ups and divorces around the country. Not only were most couples not used to spending so much time together, but everyone was also prevented from pursuing activities outside of their relationship including work, hobbies and socialising – a perfect storm.
A positive effect of lockdown, however, was that many more couples were able to be more equally involved in their children’s day to day lives. However, this shift to more balanced parenting is now having an impact upon child arrangements, with both parents wanting their children to spend equal time with each of them, without necessarily putting first what is best for their children.
You must put your children’s needs first, and our advice would always be to try, where possible, and in the most age-appropriate way, to find out their views and feelings. A hostile marital breakdown is likely to have a hugely negative effect on the welfare and mental health of children, particularly adolescents, which can continue to impact upon them into adulthood. Children need to know they are loved beyond their parents’ separation, and not be a focal point of the disagreement, and if they are, that needs to be kept away from them.
A good divorce is one where both spouses are able to talk frankly and openly with each other, respect each other’s views and seek to reach a fair and pragmatic outcome.
Look out for…
…the implementation of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act which will see the biggest shake up of divorce laws in 50 years. It was meant to come into force this Autumn but has now been pushed back to April 2022 to allow time for the essential IT changes to be made to HM Courts and Tribunal Service’s online divorce systems.
The Act means:
- The sole ground for divorce – that a marriage has broken down irretrievably – will remain. However, it removes the requirement to evidence this, on the basis of the current five factors – the most controversial being the other party’s behaviour, which so often is regarded as meaning their ‘fault’. In reality, the breakdown of a marriage is rarely attributable to one person.
- There will be no possibility to challenge the irretrievable breakdown and so costly contested proceedings should be avoided.
- The process should be faster, in that the final order, previously, the “decree absolute,” could be obtained within 20 weeks.
Although the Act aims to reduce animosity between couples, it is important to be aware that these changes affect the divorce process and cannot take away the pain of separation.
In the family team’s experience, acrimony stems from how spouses treat each other and react to the breakdown of their relationship. Although the changes are welcomed, respect and communication between spouses, being honest, not rushing into anything and choosing your lawyer carefully, are essential to achieving an amicable divorce. Counselling could also be considered before embarking on the formal process, as this may be helpful too.