Coronavirus & Divorce

How could self-isolation and social distancing influence divorce rates?

Following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, health officials around the globe have introduced drastic measures, as communities worldwide strive to battle the short and long-term effects of the COVID-19 virus.

During recent weeks, unprecedented measures have been introduced, with the government giving strict instructions to practice social distancing and self-isolation, irrespective of whether or not symptoms are being displayed.

The global pandemic is changing the way that we socialise, coordinate business and live, with such measures introduced as a means of reducing the spread of the virus, alleviate pressure on the NHS and reduce the number of infections and deaths.

While these drastic measures could bring undoubted benefits, the challenging nature of the methods introduced to combat the virus is already introducing a host of challenges for members of society.

The Detrimental Impact of Self-Isolation and Social Distancing

While self-isolation and social distancing, in theory, could potentially prove to be a game-changer during the current pandemic, there are downsides to the plans introduced by the government that have raised questions.

While current measures have unquestionably been introduced for the greater good, socially isolating ourselves from friends, family and elements of everyday culture are undoubtedly challenging, a view echoed by Nicholas Christakis, a social scientist and physician at Yale University.

“The coronavirus spreading around the world is calling on us to suppress our profoundly human and evolutionarily hard-wired impulses for connection: seeing our friends, getting together in groups, or touching each other.”

“Pandemics are an especially demanding test … because we are not just trying to protect people we know, but also people we do not know or even, possibly, care about.”

Will Coronavirus and Divorce Rates Increase Simultaneously?

Despite Christakis acknowledging that society is trying to offer help and support for our loved ones, there have been suggestions amongst leading divorce lawyers that the intense living conditions amongst couples who are self-isolating or practising social distancing could lead to a significant increase in divorces.

Divorce lawyer Amanda Rimmer offered her perspective into how coronavirus could potentially end thousands of marriages prematurely.

“For some, the prospect of being quarantined with their partner will be a welcome opportunity to spend time together, yet for others, it may force simmering tensions in their relationship to rise to the surface,” Rimmer said.“Often when couples face serious and stressful situations it can lead some to re-evaluate their lives and what is important to them.

“While we all try to navigate this pandemic as best as possible, it wouldn’t surprise me if, when the dust settles, we do see an increase in couples seeking to end their relationship.”

While many will weather the storm with their partner and emerge from the current challenge unscathed, for others, the scenario will expose flaws in their relationship and prompt a subsequent longing for a separation. 

In such cases, Eclipse Legal Services can assist in serving divorce petitions, helping to bring a marriage to an amicable close.

What is a Divorce Petition?

A divorce petition must be completed when applying to a court of law for separation if you wish to end your marital connection with a partner.

There are two separate parties when a divorce petition is being submitted: The Petitioner, i.e. the individual who decides to complete and submit the application, while their spouse assumes the role of the Respondent

To begin the process, the documentation must be submitted to the Court, providing relevant information about each spouse, the marriage itself, while the Petitioner must also explain as to why they’re choosing to file for divorce.

Grounds for Divorce

Marital law in England and Wales indicates that the sole ground for divorce is that the marriage has broken down and is beyond repair, i.e. it’s irretrievable.

When the divorce petition is being lodged to the court, the Petitioner must outline one of five facts as to why their marriage is beyond repair, before the process can proceed further.

The five instances whereby ground for divorce will be granted include:

  1. Adultery
  2. Unreasonable behaviour
  3. Consensual separation for two years
  4. A separation period of five years
  5. Desertion

If two- or five-years’ separation is being used as a ground for divorce, the Petitioner will need to provide compulsory information. Firstly, they’ll have to inform the court of the separation date, as well as the date whereby it was concluded that the marriage had reached its conclusion. Each of the aforementioned dates must fall within either a two- or five-year time period – this is non-negotiable. When the Petitioner’s case hinges on two years’ separation as the grounds for divorce, then the spouse will need to give their consent before the divorce can take place.

On the other hand, supporting information will need to be given to the court to support claims of unreasonable conduct/behaviour, desertion, or adultery. For example, in instances whereby there are claims of adultery, the Petitioner must confirm how they found out about the alleged affair and also provide dates of when the event took place if they have the information available

While it’s less common for desertion to be used as a grounds for divorce, if the Petitioner is using this as their reason to leave their partner, then they’ll need to provide in-depth details of when they were deserted and provide supplementary background as to the events leading up to the alleged desertion. The proof will also need to be submitted confirming that they are living separately.

As far as unreasonable behaviour is concerned, a minimum of four examples of ill-conduct is required; these examples must be deemed suitable examples of unendurable behaviour, for the Petitioner’s case to hold weight. The behaviour of the Petitioner themselves will not be considered, in such cases.

Are You Considering Your Marital Future? 

Eclipse Legal Services have widespread experience of serving divorce petitions for an array of clients. Call 0800 999 2099 to discuss your requirements with a member of our specialist team.

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