The coronavirus outbreak is “very likely” to lead to a rise in divorce rates because couples are being kept in self-isolation together, a leading divorce lawyer has said.
Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia told peers at Westminster: “The prediction amongst divorce lawyers is that following self-imposed confinement it is very likely that the divorce rate will rise.
“Our peak times are after long exposure during the summer holidays and over Christmas.
“One only has to imagine what it’s going to be like when families are sealed in a property for a long period of time.”
Advice from the government states if one person in a household has a persistent cough or fever, everyone living there should stay at home for 14 days.
Lady Shackleton, whose previous clients include Sir Paul McCartney, the Prince of Wales, Madonna and Liam Gallagher, made her comments in the House of Lords during the second reading of the Private International Law (Implementation of Agreements) Bill.
The Conservative peer said she was concerned about the lack of provision relating to divorce.
“When we leave the EU there will be an enormous vacuum and there has been no direction to the judges or the people who practice in this area as to what is going to happen,” she said.
In other developments:
- The Chinese city of Wuhan – the original epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak – has reported just one new case of the virus for the second day in a row, as China reported only 13 new cases on Wednesday
- Canada and the US are considering a mutual ban on non-essential travel between the two countries, according to a Canadian government official
- Tunisia has announced a nationwide curfew, with citizens in lockdown from 6pm to 6am
- At least 17 elderly people from a Madrid nursing home have died in the last five days, the Spanish city’s regional authorities have said
- The youngest UK victim has been named as 45-year-old Craig Ruston, a father-of-two with motor neurone disease (MND)
- UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has unveiled plans to offer £330bn in government-backed loans to businesses struggling in the face of the coronavirus pandemic
According to a report in The Global Times, the Chinese city of Xi’an has seen a record number of divorce requests in recent weeks.
Health officials quoted in the report said this could be down to two factors.
As offices have been closed for a month, they are likely to have been hit with delayed requests.
Another reason is that couples have been quarantined in close quarters.
However one official told The Global Times the divorce procedure can take no more than around half an hour in Xi’An – and many couples had already decided to remarry.