'til COVID-19 do us part « McAlister Family Law


'til COVID-19 do us part

Nicola Wilburn-Shaw


Partner Nicola Wilburn-Shaw was recently featured in Living Edge magazine, giving valuable advice regarding the reported rise in divorce enquiries as a result of the worldwide Covid-19 lockdown.  We are pleased to reproduce this article here:

We've all seen the media articles arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic in relation to the increase in divorcing couples around the world, putting fault at the door of a long period of lockdown where there may have already been cracks in a slowly waning relationship.

As we embark upon a gradual exit following lockdown, many are looking about their lives and activities with caution, in terms of what the coming months may look like, not just in terms of their relationships but also of the economic consequences. Financial circumstances will have a direct impact upon couples who are entering into, or are currently involved in, divorce. Whenever spouses divorce, there follows a need to determine the division of matrimonial assets and/or finances. The courts must have specific information in relation to those assets which usually requires expert evidence by way of valuation.

Business interests and divorce

One problematic area will be business interests. As to whether or not such an interest will be affected (either adversely or positively), this will be dependent on a number of factors such as the sector of operation. However, any business relies on its suppliers and it may be further down that chain that there are problems. It will be pivotal, therefore, that a competent expert is instructed so as to give an accurate valuation based on both a “business as usual” and a “during/post-Covid-19” basis.

Nicola Wilburn Shaw divorce during pandemic

Division of assets

Never has it been more critical to ensure you seek solid advice before embarking on divorce and/or where there is a dispute around the division of assets. You will need to ensure that your position is protected during this uncertain time. Caution should be applied to any spouse embarking on a sale of assets and/or where there may be the threat of winding-up a business.

You will require advice on the alternatives if now may simply not be the best time to value and/or sell; it may instead be more appropriate for share transfer within a business interest and timing on that will be crucial to ensure you can capitalise on the tax relief available. Such could be done with restricted or no voting rights, for example, and provides a good solution to the current unknown without meaning a period of stalemate or feeling trapped.

Our lawyers are trained and experienced to the highest level and can advise you of any aspect of post- Covid divorce offering you the best and most cost-effective of solutions to your case.


If you are affected by any of the issues mentioned in this article, please get in touch today. We are here to help you. 

7 Jun 2020

No-fault divorce - what it will mean

The new "no-fault" legislation aims to overhaul divorce law and reduce family conflict, and comes following overwhelming pressure from senior judges, lawyers, politicians and members of the public amid calls for reform. Parallel changes would be made to the law governing the dissolution of a civil partnership. Managing Partner Amanda McAlister explains. 

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5 Jun 2020

Fluctuating property prices and divorce

There is a lot of speculation in the media at present about the impact that lockdown is having on our economy. For those divorcing, the potential impact on the housing market is particularly difficult, given that the main asset owned by most couples is their house. Partner Fiona Wood examines the issues.

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4 Jun 2020

Prevented from child contact - what you can do?

The lockdown is easing, but what can I do if I am being prevented from seeing my children? Georgia Smith looks at the issues around this often highly emotionally-charged issue.

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