At the beginning of Covid-19, there were predictions that the number of divorces would spike as couples found being forced to spend more time together would deepen any relationship cracks.
To date this hasn’t happened, although solicitor Fiona Reid, from Reid Family Lawyers, says there has been a spike in inquiries from people who have decided their marriage or de facto relationship has come to an end – probably double the number compared with the same time last year.
“The reason largely for the spike is that financial pressure is one of the big death knells for relationships. The isolation combined with home schooling and the pressures that brought – it highlighted the cracks already present and turned them into massive crevices because people didn’t have the escapes they normally have,” says Reid.
“Some people have felt unsupported by partners, and also excessive alcohol and infidelity have become more of a problem because it’s hard to hide an affair if you’re together 24/7. We’ve seen people who’ve seen texts pop up from girlfriends or boyfriends, or didn’t notice their partner’s drinking when they had other things to focus on.”
Reid says some of the inquiries have been about fact finding while others have been after the decision has been made. “They need to know what the financial deal and family obligations will be so they go into the process with knowledge,” she says. “It’s a massive decision and it’s an uncertain time.”
Splitting the assets
Know what your asset pool is and also have some idea what you brought into the relationship at the beginning. Think about any gifts or inheritances received, and what your income capacity is. Reid says this gives lawyers an ability to give fairly accurate advice on what outcome is likely and whether they need to go to court.
People also need to understand the realities about property and parenting. “It’s all about the children and their rights to have relationships with both parents and if you have a very young child it’s hard to project how that will look,” says Reid.
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