Separated but stuck together in lockdown: With freedom on hold, many separated couples have found the lockdown has added an extra layer of pressure to already fragile relationships and family set-ups.
Whilst some relationships grow stronger in these challenging times, it is inevitable that others will deteriorate.
For those married couples who had recently chosen to separate, the lockdown restrictions mean they may find themselves still living under one roof, unable to move forward with their lives.
Or other separated couples going through a divorce may have moved back in together again for the benefit of their children.
So what impact does this have on the divorce process?
To proceed and be granted a divorce, you need to demonstrate to the court that your relationship has irretrievably broken down.
Usually, a relationship that has irretrievably broken down is considered as two people living apart and keeping communication to a minimum.
But in lockdown, many people are finding themselves in a situation where they have to live in the same house as their ex-partner.
The divorce process
As people navigate through the divorce process they will reach a stage where they are in a position to apply for Decree Nisi. This is the court order that confirms your entitlement to get divorced.
As part of the application for a decree nisi a ‘statement in support’ is submitted to the court.
This statement will vary depending on the grounds you used to apply for your divorce, but they all require confirmation of where you have been living since separating and whether at any point you have lived in the same property as your ex-partner.
If you are still living together because of lockdown and this is detailed on the statement, the court may not be satisfied that the relationship has irretrievably broken down – and so not grant the divorce.
It is therefore important for you or your solicitor to distinguish the living arrangements clearly on the statement. For example, sleeping in separate bedrooms, eating meals at different times, doing your own washing and cooking to demonstrate to the court that although you are living in one house, you are living totally apart.
If the court is satisfied with this, then your divorce petition can proceed to the Decree Absolute stage. This is the order that officially dissolves the marriage.
This involves waiting for a period of 6 weeks and 1 day before the petitioner (person making the divorce application) can apply for the decree absolute to end the marriage.
Although practically speaking this is often not done until finances have been resolved.
Get in touch
If you find yourself separated but stuck together in lockdown you can find about our legal services here or please do contact our Client Care Team to speak to one of our specialist family lawyers here.