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Deluge of big money divorces expected as no-fault divorce lands

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash.

Research from law firm Moore Barlow reveals that a huge proportion of well-off individuals are planning to call time on their relationships, and many have been holding off on filing papers until no-fault divorce is introduced from today

A raft of high-value divorces will be filed once the new no-fault divorce legislation becomes law today, the 6th April, heaping further strain on the already embattled courts system, finds new research.

More than a third (36%) of wealthy Brits plan to divorce from their partner after the Covid-19 pandemic and successive lockdowns put strain on their relationships, according to a survey of 250 high-net-worth UK adults from law firm Moore Barlow. Just over half (54%) of those planning to divorce said they are waiting to file papers until ‘no-fault’ becomes available.

Joanna Farrands, partner in the family team at Moore Barlow, said: “The pent-up demand resulting from the no-fault divorce law change has been well-trailed, but the number of high-net-worth couples looking to end their marriages will be a particular concern for the courts. Larger estates are far more complex to administer in a divorce, taking up more time for both the families involved and the court system.

“The number of couples waiting for no-fault divorce to become law before filing papers has masked the true damage that the pandemic did to relationships. Unfortunately, we’re about to witness the full extent of the strain placed on families and, as our research suggests, having financial security has not lessened the impact the pandemic has had on relationships.”

Nearly all (97%) respondents to the survey said their family was under some sort of strain during the pandemic, with addiction (28%), coercive control (28%) and living and working together 24/7 (27%) the most common root causes of family problems.

A quarter (25%) said their family had been affected by domestic abuse, with that figure rising to 31% among women.

Some 27% said they were considering mediation as an alternative to a court application, with the evidence showing that women (33%) are more likely to propose this option to their partner than men (27%).

Jan Galloway, partner and chairman of Moore Barlow’s individuals and family division, added: “There is a huge backlog in the court system, affecting all areas of family law, and the delay and costs that arise as a result are having a detrimental impact on families that are already going through difficult times. No-fault divorce will, in the long-run, make divorce a more accessible and less painful ordeal for some, but the immediate influx of proceedings arising from those divorces being filed in April will take a significant amount of time to clear. There’s never been a more prudent time to explore alternative forms of dispute resolution that avoid going to court.”

All respondents to the survey had capital assets worth at least £2m.

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