Rising and varying property rates have led to delays in the rising divorces post-covid pandemic and lockdown in Australia!
Though Australian government data reveal only a marginal rise in divorce applications post-covid, lawyers state that divorce filings have actually increased three-fold since lockdown and travel restrictions due to the deadly virus. And along with it, the property rates have also soared. This leads to delays in the grant of divorce.
Divorces during the pandemic: the enormous rise
Australian government figures peg the increase in divorce filings from 2019 to 2020 at 2%. This is an underestimate. Lawyers state that the figures have increased as high as three-fold. Suzanne Delbridge who owns Delbridge Forensic Accounting and is its director says:
“Every lawyer and forensic accountant I deal with has never been so busy,”
Angela Harbinson, chief executive of the online platform, The Separation Guide reveals that she has noticed a 230% rise in couple references to the platform, a two-fold increase in requests for psychologists, and an 85% increase in couples who are thinking about separating.
Courtney Mullen, head of family law (Canberra) for Australian Family Lawyers puts the cause of the increase in divorce due to tensions associated with working from home and home-educating children. There is no place to go or travel to release the tension. And it leads to frustration and couple fights. She says:
“Families have been in each other’s faces without being able to escape,”
Property rates impact divorces
Angela Harbinson states that in couples divorcing 73% had a family home and 24% possessed an investment estate. Now, the property prices in Australia are steeply and rapidly rising. This is especially true in cities like Melbourne and Sydney. In situations where the divorcing couples are seeking an equitable division of the assets, these rapid property price rising is causing problems. Suzanne Delbridge said:
“It is very difficult for many couples to settle on a price for their home, holiday home, and investment properties because the market is moving so rapidly.”
If we have a look at the prices in the last 12 months, there has been an 18% rise documented. Suzanne added:
“There is a lot of uncertainty on the value of the properties before they divorce, and they are seeking clarity.”
In some, this had led to disputes over property valuations and these further caused delays.
Other issues and how to overcome them
The court also has reasons for delays such as the introduction of reforms that were actually meant to accelerate the divorce proceedings. But during the initial implementation, they could cause delays instead.
There are three ways that couples can get separation. One is by doing it yourself with no court intervention. Here, things can be sorted out in a friendly way and it remains a simple procedure. This is the safest bet. The second way is to seek some guidance from professional mediators who are qualified for this purpose. And the last option is legal separation. The latter would take time and money and could become messy. If the couples get bitter with each other during the separation, the court has to intervene.
It is best for couples to be amicable during the separation and this is more so important when children are involved.