Divorce inquiries up 42pc since coronavirus lockdown

Telegraph reporters
The stress of lockdown could have pushed some couple apart - GETTY IMAGES
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Divorce inquiries have increased by more than 40 per cent during the lockdown, according to one legal advice firm.

Between March 23, the day lockdown was announced, and mid-May, Co-op Legal Services reported a 42 per cent increase in divorce inquiries, compared with the same period in 2019.

It said being in lockdown together has moved some couples to consider legally separating.

Financial woes and being stuck in close confinement are concerns currently being cited by couples seeking divorce advice according to Tracey Moloney, head of family law at Co-op Legal Services. Some weeks of the lockdown it saw inquiries jump by 75 per cent compared with a year earlier. Friday is the most common day for inquiries about divorce, followed by Tuesday.

Ms Moloney said: "We know that divorce can be a difficult decision at any time, and often couples have already considered divorcing for a number of months and tried mediation before they begin the process.

"Currently, concerns about finances, employment, coupled with the fact that households are having to spend an increased amount of time together can add strain on relationships.

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"However, divorce is life changing for all involved and so it's really important that couples don't go into divorce lightly and as a result of the current situation we find ourselves in."

Divorce proceedings have been going ahead over video conferencing calls while the courts have been closed. Urgent cases involving domestic abuse or child protection are being prioritised and couples have been warned to expect delays. However, the Ministry of Justice said most divorce cases do not require a hearing and that it is not currently noticing a slowdown in the time taken to process paperwork for online divorce applications.

Miranda Fisher, a family lawyer at the firm Charles Russell Speechlys said it could be harder for judges to assess a person's character via a video call and warned that some people may feel they have been treated unfairly.