The virus has changed every aspect of our lives.

The restrictions on who we can and can't see means our closest relationships have come into sharp focus.

For some, problems that simmered under the surface are bubbling over.

Even some happy couples have cracked under the strain.

Divorce and separation cases have risen since March.

But help is there for those who need it.

Mediation

Mediation is a way to agree the terms of your separation or divorce without going to court.

Using mediation to decide, for example, how jointly owned property or debts are shared up can save you time and money.

If you decide to seek a court order in relation to your separation or divorce, it is likely you will need to be able to show that you have first tried to agree terms through mediation.

Learn more about family mediation

Separation and divorce

If you want to divorce or separate, you can still get things moving during lockdown.

Regulated legal advisors are still working. Family courts are operating.

You can get help with

  • separation
  • divorce
  • money
  • child access.

Worries about jobs, money and property values may mean you want to wait a while.

Others may decide to begin straight away.

Find out what is best for you

Business as usual

Regulated legal advisors are progressing cases during lockdown.

You can have meetings by phone or video call. You can also get papers by post or email.

There are things you can be getting on with. You can agree access to children and living arrangements.

You can also start looking at finances.

To reach a financial deal, you each must disclose details such as your

  • income
  • savings
  • pensions
  • property
  • debts.

If you can 't agree between yourselves or through mediation, the courts may need to decide for you.

Cases are progressing through the courts under lockdown. But they may be slower than usual.

Moving out

Some people may have money worries. This means they can 't afford to move out straight away.

Social distancing rules may also mean they can 't move in with family or friends.

Couples can legally separate and still live together.

They should agree childcare and living arrangements as normal.

Ask a regulated legal advisor or check Citizens Advice for help.

Child access

The social restrictions do not affect access to children.

Parents can agree access in the normal way.

Children can move between homes if there is no risk of the virus spreading to vulnerable people. Visit GOV.UK for the latest guidance.

If one parent can 't see their children for a time, they could have contact by video or phone calls, or defer access periods until restrictions are lifted.

More help

For more help, try Citizens Advice or think about contacting a regulated legal advisor.

Good to know

Legal Choices is a free website run by legal services regulators.

The information here is independent and just the facts. We're not trying to sell you anything.

We just tell you about things that are good to know to help you make better choices about legal issues and lawyers.

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