Dramatic rise in divorce enquiries as lockdown pushes couples to ‘breaking point’

Prettys, an Ipswich-based solicitors firm, has seen a huge up-tick in enquiries relating to divorce

Prettys, an Ipswich-based solicitors firm, has seen a huge up-tick in enquiries relating to divorce Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Lockdown has pushed many couples to breaking point, claim a Suffolk law firm after seeing a dramatic rise in the number of divorce enquiries.

Family solicitor for Ipswich-based Prettys, Georgie Hall, said: “Lockdown may have revealed to some couples that they now have little in common or that those little idiosyncrasies they previously could live with are just no longer bearable.

“But whatever the reason, divorce is life changing, so it’s really important that couples don’t go into separation lightly and as a result of the current situation we find ourselves in.”

Couples who have been “pushed to breaking point” during the coronavirus lockdown should seek the help of a mediator before considering a split, added Ms Hall, who is also head of private client for the firm.

Prettys said the number of visits to their online advice pages relating to divorce, family law, separation and mediation increased by 1233% between March 23 and the end of May, compared to the same period last year.

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The firm has also seen a dramatic rise in phone calls regarding divorce.

Georgina Rayment, head of the family team, said: “Right at the start of the lockdown, divorce lawyers predicted the divorce rate will rise. After all, our peak times are usually after the summer holidays and over Christmas when couples spend a lot of time together.

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“However, we have been surprised by the large number of calls we have received.”

This increase in demand has lead to Prettys moving its mediation services online.

Victoria Mayhew, an accredited mediator at the company, said: “When we went into lockdown, family mediation services faced a stark ‘adapt or die’ choice. We’ve adapted and have not regretted it, having found, somewhat unexpectedly, there are some real benefits to working in this way.”

“It is not normal or natural to be locked up together in close confinement for three months straight and even the most solid of relationships have been put to the test. How a couple resolves those difficulties is crucial.”

As well as mediation, family hearings 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 for financial cases.

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