The Covid-19 crisis is likely to lead to many high net worth families being brought into disputes in different areas of their lives, including in their businesses, investments or family relationships. On a recent webinar organised by PCD, Sam Longworth gave an overview of how relationships are being impacted, and what private client advisors need to be aware of.


Marriage and families

Sam started by mentioning that 2020 is fast becoming a ‘lost year’ for weddings, resulting in a reduction in new marriages, and amendments to any pre-nuptial agreements that may have been on the cards.

Sam discussed the potential recipe for marriages to break down during lockdown, although he was quick to mention that divorce can often come a long time after a marriage has broken down.

Sam also mentioned the potential benefit to families during this time, with travel and commuting demands falling in some cases leading to both parents being more present in their children’s lives.


Practicalities – can you still get divorced?

Sam went through the practicalities of divorce under the current circumstances. The family courts are still running, so it is possible to start divorce proceedings, hold online or telephone hearings, and file documentation electronically. There are, however, some teething problems, and things are moving a little slower than usual.

Sam mentioned that there is likely to be a spike in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods within the family justice system. Arbitration has been on the rise over the past few years as more couples opt to keep things private, and due to a general strain on the family courts.


Financial arrangements

The financial crisis that is likely to follow any lockdown raises the question of what impact a recession might have on divorce settlements. Often, a bad time for one party to divorce is a good time for the other. For example, high earners may end up paying less maintenance based on the current financial climate. Sam looked back on other recent financial downturns to give some insight into how the court might approach dealing with capital and maintenance arrangements if there is a recession.


International families

Sam also highlighted the impact on international families. Travel restrictions are likely to impact any co-parenting arrangements where families are based across borders, and where children travel extensively to spend time with either parent. These restrictions are unlikely to be lifted any time soon and may result in litigation or ADR to vary or revisit any arrangements already in place.


The recording

To view a recording of the webinar, please click here.

The webinar is free to view, but standard registration details are required.


Private client litigation in the wake of Coronavirus webinar series

James PriceSam Longworth and Lucy Ward teamed up with PCD to look at the likely implications of the global pandemic on private client litigation. The presentation covering trust disputes issues can be found here, and one regarding commercial litigation can be found here.

This webinar featured presentations on the key issues for private wealth advisors to consider, offering insights into the challenges ahead as well as providing practical tips to keep in mind as we all brace for the new normal.




Coronavirus Covid-19

Covid-19 is impacting individuals and companies around the world in an unprecedented way. We have collected insights here to help you navigate the key legal issues you may be facing at this time.

Learn more



You can find further information regarding our expertise, experience and team on our  Divorce and Family pages.

If you require assistance from our team, please contact us or alternatively request a call back from one of our lawyers by submitting this form.



Subscribe – In order to receive our news straight to your inbox, subscribe here. Our newsletters are sent no more than once a month.


Key Contacts

See all people