A good time for big decisions? Divorce after Covid-19

A lifetime ago, in February 2020, the world was different. We booked holidays, sent our children to school, went to work, and shopped for things we didn’t really need. These were small decisions that now seem significant. What about the big stuff?

Most of us have had time (sometimes too much time) to think about the things that are important to us. Some relationships have become stronger, some are coming to an end. Some have been over for a long time, and it has become important to draw a line under them and move on. Everyone is worried when their relationship ends. For couples who decide to split up now, economic uncertainty may make the future an even more frightening place. What can I say to help?

Perhaps consider counselling. The end of a relationship is always sad, it is a tragedy if that relationship could have been saved. We have all been through a difficult time. There are services who can help couples to communicate again.

Even if the end of the road has been reached, that does not mean that open warfare must descend. These days, more clients are telling me that achieving an amicable resolution to their case is a priority. Most separating couples tend not to focus on divorce itself to start with – they want to sort out arrangements for their children, and their finances. How do you sort out your finances when some say we might be on the brink of financial catastrophe? We should be cautious and realistic when making financial decisions that will shape our future lives, but even in difficult times it should be possible to agree sensible arrangements if we have the right figures and the right advice. If long term decisions are difficult, we can resolve short term finances to ensure that both parties, and their children, are ok.

What if you are divorced and your settlement now seems unfair? When the Court has made a final order dealing with capital assets, it is very difficult to try to overturn that order. It is sometimes possible to review future obligations that have been impacted by a change in the financial position. That may include spousal or child maintenance or, in some cases, the timing of a lump sum payment or transaction. If you are affected, try to agree something sensible. If you can’t, take good legal advice quickly – delay is not helpful.

Think positive. The crystal ball shop is still closed for business, but Jersey has a resilient and resourceful population. We need to find our confidence and move on.

Claire Davies

This article originally appeared in Gallery magazine June 2020