Family solicitor, Jen Law, looks at separation during Covid-19. Here is Jen’s ‘Lockdown Separation Survival Guide’
COVID-19: unprecedented, worrying, financially and emotionally debilitating; and on top of that your relationship has come to an end. What can you do?
The breakdown of a relationship is one of the most stressful and heart-breaking events we can experience. But when it happens in a time when people are unable to visit friends and family for support, a cry or a hug, it’s not surprising that they can feel overwhelmed. When we cannot even get out of the house for a break it is difficult to find positive solutions and gain a sense of perspective. In these difficult times it is easy to see why many of us just don’t know which way to turn.
The first thing to remember is that you don’t have to make any quick decisions. Nothing will happen overnight. The main thing is to look after yourself (and your children if you have any) and take each day a step at a time. There are also some practical steps that you can take to make things more manageable.
Here is my ‘Lockdown Separation Survival Guide’
SHORT TERM STEPS
- Can you move out of your shared home? Can your partner move out? Is it safe and in line with social distancing and self-isolating? Is it affordable?
- Are there children involved? Can you work out a safe pattern for their care between you?
- Are you still able to work? Can you increase your hours to maximise your income? Can you alter your working hours to fit around child care and your partner’s work? Can you alternate working shifts so as to avoid too much contact with each other in the same house which can give you a break and help with child care?
- Make enquiries with your employer.
- Speak to the local housing team.
- Apply for single person Council Tax relief.
- Apply for housing benefit or a mortgage holiday.
- Speak to you bank about interest free credit cards or overdraft facilities that might be available.
- Separate your finances. Have your own bank account for your wages, income, savings and benefits. Just make sure the joint bills and mortgage or rent are still covered from a joint account and you each pay enough in to do that.
- Apply for benefits to maximise your income as a single person. You may be eligible for Universal Credit, tax credits or other forms of support.
- Calculate the amount of child maintenance that should be paid to you, or by you, using the CMS calculator online and ideally reach an agreement between you if possible.
MEDIUM TO LONG TERM STEPS
- Speak to an Independent Financial Advisor to find out your mortgage capacity.
- Look at properties that might become your new home, what can you afford? What mortgage or deposit would you need? Can you afford the monthly payments?
- If you have a pension, find out what the value (CETV) is.
- Ask your partner for their figures so you can begin to see what the future might look like and what you both need to move forward financially.
This is not an exhaustive list of the steps you can take to survive separation during lockdown. And it’s important to remember that you don’t need to do it all at once. Our specialist family law team are available to help guide you through divorce and separation during these unsettling times and offer a range of funding options, including fixed fees. Call us on freephone 0808 139 1606 for a free initial chat or send us an email at [email protected]