With couples and families being forced to stay and work at home there are several stresses which may be getting the better of them. Where a relationship between a couple was already under strain the existing situation caused by Covid-19 may bring into sharp focus the differences between them.
We have found that most of our advice remains as it was before lock-down started - to draw on those resources that you can and to act sensibly.
What we are finding is that people want to understand what they can do in practical terms to make their situation better.
Here is a guide on what you can do to try to make the situation better: -
1. Understand the situation you are in
There are a lot of good online resources which tell you about the law on divorce in Scotland. We have lots of resources on-line about getting a divorce and how best to go about doing so. Being properly informed about your situation will hopefully give you some sense of certainty about how to take things forward at the right time. Take the time to speak to family lawyers in the place where you live so that you are getting advice from the person with the right approach to guide you through the separation and divorce process.
2. Take control of your situation
All the alternate ways of resolving matters remain open to couples. Our common way of resolving matters in Scotland is to reach an agreement through discussion and negotiation. Reaching an agreement is the primary goal. Most lawyers have adapted their way of working so that they can give advice by phone and video call and speak to one another. While most couples can agree matters through some give and take, arbitration is having its (long overdue) moment. If you can't reach a decision, referring the matter to a specialist family arbitrator is a better solution than waiting for the courts to come back to life – our system is designed so that court should always be the last resort anyway.
3. Get on with your homework
Now is the ideal time to put together any relevant documentation you have in your filing cabinet which will be needed as part a discussion about the finances. Relevant documentation includes copies of tax returns, pension statements, statements of cash balances, investments, debt and any policies. Speak to your accountant or financial advisor if they hold information for you. Prepare a list of what assets you have and what information you still need to complete the financial picture.
4. Compartmentalise the conversation
Not being able to get away from the conversations you are having with a partner or spouse is difficult. If you struggle to be in the same space, try to agree certain boundaries. A continuous dialogue about the relationship will be draining, particularly if those discussions become confrontational. Sending messages to one another in haste can later lead to regret. Set aside time to have conversations about any issues you need to discuss when you both feel calm and at your best. Most therapists will be able to conduct counselling by video call. Friends and family can be leaned on for support. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Domestic abuse is not acceptable behaviour in any circumstances.
5. Keep the kids out of it
When a marriage ends the parental relationship needs to continue. Children might have an idea that their parents are not getting along but try your best to shield them from any adult discussions they shouldn't be hearing. Although thinking about life after lock-down might be difficult to imagine, you can start to think about your respective values as a parent and lay the foundations about how you will parent to the best of your ability when you are apart. Most mediators can mediate via video call. Try a mediation session together to discuss how you will transition to living apart.
There are lots of practical steps you can still take to deal with your separation whilst living in lock-down and if you need to get in touch, we are here to guide you through the process.