My guest blog today is from Sarah Havers at Stewarts Law. www.stewartslaw/people/sarah-havers

Love in the time of COVID: Divorce enquiries surge as couples return to pre-lockdown life.  Law firm Stewarts witness record numbers of divorce enquiries as restrictions lift and ‘normal’ life beckons.

As couples across the UK face the prospect of returning to a pre-Covid world and the freedoms of pre-pandemic life, leading law firm Stewarts has reported a significant spike in new divorce enquiries.

In June 2021, there was a 136% increase in individuals seeking divorce advice compared to January this year. The spike would suggest that in some instances the lifting of lockdown restrictions has proved a turning point, with individuals no longer prepared to wait to make key decisions about their lives. This also marks a seismic shift from Stewarts’ typical ‘divorce calendar’, where the peak times are after Christmas and the school summer holidays. This is usually as a result of when couples have spent prolonged periods of time together.

Sarah Havers, Senior Associate in the Divorce and Family department at Stewarts, said: “One emerging, and perhaps unsurprising, impact of Covid-19, is the rise in marriage separation and divorce. Even the strongest of marriages have been severely tested by the overall stresses of the pandemic – financial, emotional and physical. What’s interesting is that now restrictions are lifting, many couples can no longer sustain who they were in lockdown. Having been forced to take a long, hard look at their partners, the much-heralded promise of ‘Freedom Day’ has taken on a whole new meaning.”

The busiest 18 months in the history of divorce.

The June divorce spike follows the busiest 18 months in the history of the divorce and family practice at Stewarts. Between July – October 2020, Stewarts saw a 122% increase in divorce enquiries, and a 107% increase in March 2021 compared to January 2021. 

In addition, the firm has seen a 100% increase in new enquiries for pre-nuptial agreements in June 2021 as compared to February 2021. With the pandemic causing many weddings to be delayed, couples have potentially had more time to think about what they really want and the importance of safeguarding their assets. 

Sarah added: “Now that restrictions are easing and the big weddings are being planned for late summer/September, we’re seeing a boom in prenuptial agreements as part of financial planning for a future together. In a world of uncertainty, a ‘pandemic pre-nup’ gives both parties certainty and control over a fair financial agreement should the relationship sadly fall apart.”

About Sarah Havers.

Sarah is a Senior Associate in the Divorce and Family team at Stewarts, the UK’s leading litigation law firm. She advises on all high-value, multi-jurisdictional family law issues.