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Family lawyers predict a “post-lockdown divorce boom” as the coronavirus pandemic puts relationships under unprecedented pressure.
The Citizens Advice charity has also said that views of its divorce webpage have surged, with figures for the first weekend in September up 25 per cent compared with the same period last year.
Legal professionals believe the lockdown has combined with ongoing financial worries to heighten tensions in many relationships, while an increase in conveyancing instructions appears to point to a rise in the number of couples looking to sell their properties following a separation.
Georgina Chase, a family lawyer at Slater and Gordon, told the BBC that September was generally a busy month for family lawyers, after couples realised “a last-ditch summer holiday” had failed to bring them back together.
However, she added that she was also hearing numerous reports in recent months of issues in relationships being “exacerbated” during the lockdown.
“It’s an extreme change of circumstances for spouses and any issues in the marriage have been compounded by lockdown, that’s where we are seeing the increase,” Ms Chase said. “It’s the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Data from Citizens Advice shows searches for advice about divorce peaked on Sundays, with its dedicated web page on the subject being in the top two most-viewed on its site for the past four weekends.
Tom MacInnes, chief analyst for Citizens Advice, said: “We know that this pandemic has put an enormous strain on people financially, but our data shows that strain is also being felt in people’s relationships.”
He added that the types of advice sought differed on weekdays and weekends, with people looking to research issues such as benefits and redundancy during the week, but turning their attention to divorce, wills and noisy neighbours at weekends.