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Support Bubbles and Family Law

View profile for Sally Ward
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Support Bubbles and Family Law

Restrictions continue to be eased as the UK gets further past the peak of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Some people in England are now be able to form a "support bubble, but what does this mean for Family Law?

Unmarried couples and the "support bubble" rule change

Much has been made in the media of an anticipated surge in divorces as the lockdown restrictions are lifted. But what about those couples in a relationship who chose not to get married or live with other and have been forced to remain in separate homes without having real-time contact with each other?

An end to the so-called sex ban

Lovers who have been kept apart by lockdown will be able to spend the night together again, after Boris Johnson announced the latest relaxation to social contact rules. It means an end to the block – nicknamed the “sex ban” by some – on couples who do not live in the same property spending the night together.

The rule change – which came into effect in England only at one minute past midnight on Saturday morning – applies only where an adult is living alone or with children aged under 18.

In these cases, the single-adult household can form a “support bubble” with one other household of any size.

Members of the bubble will effectively be able to behave as a single household during the lockdown, visiting one another as much as they like without any requirement to stay two metres apart, and staying overnight if they choose.

Easing the loneliness of those living alone

“I know how difficult the past months have been for people cut off from their friends and family,” said the prime minister. “There are still too many people, particularly those who live by themselves, who are lonely and struggling with being unable to see friends and family.

Mr Johnson added: “We’re making this change to support those who are particularly lonely as a result of lockdown measures. It’s a targeted intervention to limit the most harmful effects of the current social restrictions. It is emphatically not designed for people who don’t qualify to start meeting inside other people’s homes, because that remains against the law.

Cohabitation ageements and pre-nups

Couples who were uncertain about committing to a cohabiting relationship before the lockdown may find that the prolonged period of separation has tested the strength of their relationship and led to a change of heart. If the financial implications of living together and rights over property  are a concern, these can be agreed between the couple and drawn up as a written agreement before they move in together or, if one of them has popped the question, as a prenuptial agreement before the marriage.

What support bubbles mean for single parents

Single parents struggling to look after and home-school children on their own will be able to call on support from relatives or friends.

Each household will only able to form a “bubble” with one other household, meaning that lone grandparents with a number of grown-up children will have to choose which of them to link up with.

Separated or divorced parents who are already permitted to transfer children between their homes will each be able to link up with one other household – so long as they are not currently living with another adult.

For more advice about your rights if you cohabit or child arrangements please contact our family team.

For a free initial consultation please telephone on 01245 228106 or email Family@gepp.co.uk

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.