As we continue to grapple with the public health and economic aspects of COVID-19, an unfortunate side effect is going under-reported. Canada is going to see a spike in divorces as a result of the pandemic, leading to increased demand on the courts once they’re fully operational.
In China, marriage registration offices saw an unprecedented number of divorce requests when they reopened in March. In Italy, family lawyers reported a 30 per cent increase in couples beginning divorce proceedings following their lockdown. While official figures aren’t available in Canada yet, we can share our own anecdotal evidence.
Here at Westside Family Law, we’ve noticed an increase in inquiries relating to separation agreements and divorces in recent months. Whether its financial stress, families quarantining together in cramped quarters, or an increased workload, more and more couples are feeling the strain.
Preparing for Likely Delays
Courts are slowly reopening across Canada. Here in British Columbia, our Provincial Court has resumed all operations, although some proceedings are being conducted remotely. Those seeking separation agreements will likely face delays. Although there are certain practical steps that can be taken to prepare. Here are four practical ways a couple can prepare to get the process started.
Four Tips for Preparing a Separation Agreement During COVID-19
Hire a Family Lawyer
We’re living in unprecedented times, but the law remains a constant throughout it all. Before making any decisions on potentially separating, speak to a family law expert and assess your options. They can provide advice on next steps and pitfalls to avoid. Here at Westside Family Law, our expert team are standing by to assist in any way they can.
Don’t Leave the Family Home
Given the anticipated delays in getting to court, it’s advised to remain in the family home as long as possible. Don’t create a situation where one person living in the home, or with custody of the children, becomes the status quo. If this scenario plays out over several months, with everything proceeding well, you may be creating a precedent that could impact on future legal decisions. Put it this way: If the children are doing well and happy with one parent, with the other having moved out months ago, why would anyone want to disturb their happiness?
Prepare Your Documentation
Separation Agreements require reams of evidence on both sides to paint the full picture of what’s happening in the relationship. This includes items like tax returns, pay stubs, any relevant business financial statements etc. Now is the time to start gathering those documents. The more evidence that can be provided, the better.
Start the Process Now
COVID-19 has caused backlogs and delays with most of our institutions. The courts are no exception. If you’re determined to proceed with a separation agreement, submit the paperwork as soon as you can. Don’t delay. It’s likely to be delayed due to COVID-19. Sure, the courts are utilizing software such as Zoom to speed things along, but impacts are still being felt. If a potential second wave does arrive, this delay is likely to get longer.
Here to Help
If you need help navigating any part of the separation agreement/divorce process get in touch with us today. Our qualified team of family lawyers are ready to help you.