If we're to believe reports from the media, as soon as life gets back to ‘normal' divorce lawyers will be overrun with new business.
Is that necessarily true? Jackie Wells, Family Law expert and Head of the Entrepreneurial Wealth team at Taylor Vinters, shares what she and her team are actually witnessing, as we enter yet another lockdown.
It's true that for some couples, lockdown is exacerbating an already challenging domestic situation. Reported reasons for increasing tension range from disputes about juggling childcare and whose Zoom meeting or home working should take priority to more abusive or controlling behaviour. Differing attitudes towards COVID risks, keeping to the regulations and the impact on vulnerable relations have also been cited as the final straw.
Certainly, some clients who previously considered divorce now want to extricate themselves as soon as circumstances allow. With letting and estate agents allowed to remain open under the current lockdown regulations, people are no longer ‘stuck' as they were last time round. Yet on a brighter note, many have realised that a great strategy for wealth preservation is to avoid an expensive divorce! Happily, the COVID regulations have had an unexpected positive effect on some marriages.
Couples whose work/life imbalance put their relationships under pressure are appreciating the benefits of working from home. Not getting up at the crack of dawn to commute, a better night's sleep and fairer sharing of household chores and childcare have proved a marital tonic.
Perhaps the exceptionally mild spring during last year's lockdown and the opportunity for more family time and hobbies also lightened the mood for busy professionals. This lockdown, at the start of winter and with different challenges, may not look so rosy. How this will affect personal relationships remains to be seen.
What is already clear is that COVID has caused people to reflect on what really matters. We've seen a renewed sense of urgency in clients wanting to protect what's important to them. More time at home together has allowed opportunities for discussions ranging from checking Wills are up to date, to tackling more complex succession and tax planning. These issues, previously put off to the distant future, are now a priority – particularly for business owners.
Our experience so far during the pandemic has predominantly been helping clients to make proactive, enlightened life-affirming decisions. In a time of commercial uncertainty, it makes even more sense to protect what you've built up and ensure your loved ones are looked after. This trend looks set to continue for 2021, as more people value the peace of mind that brings.
Whilst there's a real buzz associated with this sort of positivity, it's when life is toughest for our clients that our expertise and depth of experience is most valuable. It's important not to act in haste, but to take expert advice early so you can make properly informed, calmly judged decisions. Our family law specialists will help you take these positive, practical steps.
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