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Can you still get a divorce in lockdown?



Some marriages are breaking down in lockdown (Picture: Ella Byworth for

The intensity of lockdown is enough to put a strain on any relationship.

While quarantine has brought some couples closer together, others have found the situation has pushed them further apart.

It seems the latter was the case for a number of couples in China earlier this year, as divorce rates spiked after quarantine was imposed.

But with courts and solicitor offices closed, what should couples do if they want to file for a divorce in lockdown?

Ann Robinson, head of family law at Blacks Solicitors, says divorce is still an option for couples in lockdown, as many legal professionals are still operating as usual.

Ann tells ‘Some people who’ve been separated for a long time but have never got round to making their split legal are now finding the time to sort this out.

‘Others, unfortunately, have found that the pressures of lockdown itself have caused their marriage to break down.’

The good news is that telephone appointments and conference call meetings are still available, so people can access legal advice.

Ann adds: ‘Most solicitors have embraced technology over recent years and are doing even more so now.

‘It’s common for cases to progress via email in preference to post as this is quicker, but every client is treated individually and traditional methods of communication are still available if people don’t have access to a computer.’

Ann stresses that the courts are still operating, even though attending the actual buildings isn’t currently an option.

She explains: ‘Hearings are dealt with remotely by telephone or visually by means such as conference calls and each party, solicitors and the Judge are separately dialled in.

‘Whilst telephone hearings have been around for many years there has not previously been a huge amount of use in family cases until lockdown came in.

‘These, and the new video hearings, have meant a big change for family lawyers but one which is welcomed as a means of enabling justice to continue being delivered.’

How do you go about divorce proceedings in lockdown? (Picture: Ella Byworth for

Zoë Bloom, a family solicitor at Keystone Law, adds that virtual hearings are just as effective as in-person ones.

She tells ‘We have no in-person hearings but the whole profession has moved to virtual hearings and while they are not always perfect, they are working reasonably well and should not put you off.

‘Hearings will be virtual until 1 September and thereafter the policy will be reviewed. Except in urgent cases (and some children-related cases) commencing proceedings now is unlikely to result in a hearing much before 1 September by which point the court may be open again.’

But while courts and legal professionals are operating as usual, the only difference is that lockdown has resulted in delays.

Ann adds: ‘It’s important to be aware that some court hearings have been adjourned so there is likely to be a backlog of cases in the court system over the next few months. This means that proceedings may take longer than usual.’

Zahra Pabani, a family law partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell adds: ‘Some courts have shut down completely, some haven’t – depending on the area.

‘London is probably the most difficult place and the slowest place to get divorce proceedings going at the moment.’

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But overall experts stress that people who are absolutely sure they want to divorce, shouldn’t delay the process because of the pandemic.

She adds: ‘If you’re sure about wanting to get a divorce, my advice would be not to wait as the backlog in the courts after the crisis has passed will be immense. It’s better to get the process going sooner rather than later.’

Zahra also explains that some individuals have been trying to use coronavirus lockdown to their advantage, in terms of slowing down cases or preventing contact between a child and separated parent.

She says: ‘Now there are cases where this has had to happen but there are others where COVID-19 has been used wrongly as an excuse – the courts will not be impressed by this and have made that clear.’

It is now possible to move out from your partner (Picture Ella Byworth for

While lockdown is still firmly in place in the UK, couples who are looking to live apart can now do so.

Renato Labi, a partner at family law firm Hughes Fowler Carruthers, says: ‘Since the government revised its guidance for England last week, people are able to move house or look for somewhere else to live.’

However, this does not yet apply to Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

But it’s important to stress that this is completely different for those experiencing domestic violence.

Renato adds: ‘The government’s household isolation instructions do not stop you moving out if you need to leave your home to escape domestic violence.

‘You are also able to apply to court to exclude a violent or abusive partner from your home. This is the case anywhere in the UK.’

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What is the best time to post on TikTok?



TikTok is known for its entertaining videos and mysterious algorithm. (Picture: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

TikTok, one of the fastest growing social media platforms in the world, has seen a huge surge in users since the coronavirus pandemic and now counts over 800 million active users worldwide.

People around the globe have turned their time in lockdown into an opportunity to engage with the app’s entertaining, light hearted, viral videos and escape the real world for a while, getting lost in the endless stream of content instead.

Nearly half of the app’s users are aged between 16 and 24, and as the Apple App Store’s most downloaded app, TikTok certainly providers posters with a potential captive audience of millions.

But how do you know when the best time to post on TikTok is to get the most views on your videos?

What is the best time to post on TikTok?

According to TikTok in 2019, 90 per cent of all their users access the app on a daily basis and use it more than eight times a day.

So, based on this statistic, it would be fair to assume that there are multiple times, every day of the week, when millions of people are on the app watching videos.

However, there are yet to be any definitive statistics on when the best time is to post your dancing, lip-synching, trend-setting silliness to the app.

This is partially down to the fact that there are no time stamps or post times on the app and the algorithm is built in a way that you are just as likely to see a video posted two minutes ago as you are to see a clip that’s been doing the rounds for two months.

TikTok users also seem to be undecided about this one too, so much so that a hashtag named #besttimetopost is popular on the app.

TikTok users are trying to work out the best time to post on the app with a hashtag. (Picture: TikTok)

People use the hashtag and post multiple videos of the same clip but at different times, encouraging users to like the one they see, so that the video creator can gauge which clip, posted at a specific time, performed best.

However, users seem to be getting different results from their tests. In this thread on Reddit, one TikTok user reveals they have the most views on their videos if they post between 1-3 pm, while another shares that on their account: ‘The video with the the most views and likes was posted on a Monday around 8:30.’

Tiffany Peral, a Marketing Specialist from influencer marketing platform Phlanx, shared with people on Quora that between 10am-6pm every day is when she has seen success on the app: ‘I have noticed that this is the time when more people are active on TikTok and more people will see your videos,’ she observed.

While Sammy Alderson, an Official Lens Creator at Snapchat, countered claims that there is a ‘best time’ to post on TikTok by simply emphasising: ‘there is no best time’.

He went on to explain that as well as TikTok users being based in different timezones all over the world, TikTok’s algorithm is constructed in a way that means posting time shouldn’t affect views.

‘Even if the majority of your followers are in one timezone, the way the algorithm works on TikTok (and Instagram, FB, etc for that matter) means that your content will be shown at a completely different time to when you post it,’ Sammy said. ‘We rarely see content chronologically on social media these days.’

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Sibling cats found dumped in taped-up crisps boxes



This is Pringles, a three-year-old cat who was found dumped in a taped-up crisps box (Picture: Mayhew Animal Home)

Mayhew Animal Home is appealing for help to look after the animals they rescue after two cats were dumped in taped up crisps boxes the night of a storm.

Three-year-old Wotsit and his sister Pringles were discovered outside Mayhew Animal Home each inside a small cardboard box, taped up and with no air holes.

Their boxes were being battered on all sides by strong winds and rain, and left a little longer the cats could have suffocated.

Thankfully, animal welfare officers spotted the boxes as soon as they arrived at work and brought them straight inside, carefully cutting through the tape and freeing the cats.

A health assessment revealed that the two kitties had no injuries and were – luckily – in good physical form despite their terrifying ordeal.

They were settled in a cosy cabin in the shelter’s cattery so they could recover.

Shortly after the pair were rehomed, and are now both enjoying their lives with two new loving owners.

But Wotsit and Pringles’ story is far from a rarity.

Wotsit (pictured here) and Pringles have now both been rehomed (Picture: Mayhew Animal Home)

Hundreds of pets are being left out in the cold, whether due to fears they could spread coronavirus, difficulty caring for animals hastily adopted in lockdown, or unstable housing situations.

Mayhew, like other shelters, has had to pause the adoption process and scale back operations due to the coronavirus pandemic, but animals keep being abandoned and neglected, meaning work piles up with little funds to look after pets in need.

It costs over £6,000 a day to run Mayhew Animal Home and they’re entirely funded by public donations.

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As well as sending out the animal welfare team to rescue animals in need, the home also works with vulnerable pet owners across society and offers temporary foster care, free or low cost veterinary care, and extensive support and advice.

And with rehoming difficult to carry out in lockdown, the shelter has to care for a load of pets while they wait to find their new families, providing them with food, flea treatment, and litter.

To help continue rescuing, caring for, and rehoming animals like Wotsit and Pringles, the charity is appealing for £5 donations, which you can make online.

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Meet the small business owners who are staying strong through lockdown



With the country on pause, UK businesses have been hit hard. In response, an unprecedented package of loans, tax relief and cash grants from the government is helping to protect jobs and companies across the nation. Here’s how it’s helped:


On the evening that the UK went into lockdown on March 23, Dorchester’s Japanese fine-dining restaurant Myra’s Kaiseki closed to the public.

That weekend, company director Paul Elgee, 65, and his wife, head chef Myra, 48 – who opened the restaurant together in 2016 – had prepared for a fully booked Mother’s Day, and expected to serve around 400 more diners each month throughout spring.

With suppliers to pay along with five restaurant staff, they were able to put two employees on a period of temporary leave – furlough – under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), which covers 80 per cent of wages, up to £2,500 a month. The government scheme has already protected 7.5 million workers and almost one million businesses.

‘When you’re faced with closure, it’s like a dark cloud,’ says Paul. ‘Having that business support gave us enough space to breathe, so we could search for the silver lining and think about what to do next.

‘It was relief to know that our staff were looked after. Within a small business, they are like family – you can’t replace people who have contributed so much to the business.’

Since they closed, Paul and Myra have been working hard to temporarily turn their fine-dining concept into a delivery and collection service with the help of local cab service, A-line Taxis.

‘We’ve never offered takeaway because we pride ourselves on great service and dining experience. But, like many restaurants, we’ve had to adapt to create new revenue streams.

‘Now, we have developed a scheme to deliver door-to-door and even take free meals to staff at Dorset County Hospital once a week.

‘While the new takeaway service generates less than 20 per cent of our usual turnover for this time of year, it’s been effective for staying connected with our customers.’

With hopes of reopening in July, the couple plan to adapt this new arm of the business to a Japanese street food experience from the courtyard outside, while social-distancing measures limit their indoor capacity to around 40 per cent.

Paul says: ‘A third of UK restaurants may never recover from this, and if they do reopen, things can’t operate as before. Without worries about how to pay our staff, we can effectively remain dormant while we plan for the future.

‘The advice of our local council has been invaluable, particularly from our MP, Chris Loder. We were very much encouraged that the restaurant industry will recover – however slowly that may be.’



This year was meant to be Sally Fazeli’s year. The influencer-turned-yogi, 33, was launching a wellness business, preparing for a 50-person yoga event, and planning a four-day retreat.

But by the time she arrived home from advanced teacher training in Bali in early March, the country was heading for lockdown, and everything had to be cancelled.

Alongside monthly mental wellbeing workshops called Sister Circles, Sally had been teaching yoga up to four times a week at a local studio until class numbers diminished as pandemic panic ramped up.

Sally explains: ‘I was really scared about the repercussions of losing my income. How would I provide for my family? Would I be able to pay my bills: the mortgage, the car or even put food on the table?

‘Reimbursing everyone for the ticketed events added more pressure. Even before the lockdown, I was aware that there was a sense of fear about practising in public spaces, and with so much uncertainty, I had no choice but to postpone events as far off as October.’

Facing a significant loss of income, the mother-of-two from Preston, Lancashire, was able to apply for the government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), to reclaim 80 per cent of her average monthly profits, something she says has been a ‘saviour’ for her family.

‘Initially, I didn’t think there would be any financial help for the self-employed, so to find out that I was eligible for a £4,200 grant was an enormous help.

‘The process was really straightforward: very quick and efficient. After applying, it was like a big weight had been lifted off.’

Like many yoga teachers, Sally initially took her classes online, but made them all free. Then she set to work on a much bigger project – an eight-week transformational coaching programme in yoga and guided meditation called She Rises in Self Love.

‘Some women really need a healing space in their lives right now, and I wanted to provide an empowering experience beyond yoga sessions in front of the laptop,’ says Sally.

‘With the aid of the SEISS grant, which helps keep the cost of the course low, I’m grateful to be able turn this situation into a positive. Without that financial stress, the course that I’ve created hasn’t come out of a place of fear, but hope that things will work out.’


Robert McCullough

Northern Ireland’s biggest business lender Danske Bank has been working with the UK government to provide vital financial support to companies experiencing lost or deferred revenue as a result of the pandemic.

It has appointed Robert McCullough as its dedicated head of business sector engagement, and it’s his role to raise awareness of the support available to firms.

Robert says: ‘Since the beginning of March, Danske Bank has provided £200 million in overall business lending, including £80 million through the UK government-backed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and £50 million on the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS).’

The UK government’s economic plan is one of the most comprehensive in the world, benefitting firms of all sizes. The BBLS grants finance of up to £50,000 to small and medium-sized businesses, interest-free for the first 12 months.

For companies with a turnover of up to £45 million, the UK-wide CBILS allows them to access up to £5 million, where the government will pay interest and fees for a year. Danske Bank has also been able to provide relief of up to £25 million to large businesses via the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS).

As the largest bank in Northern Ireland, Danske Bank supports companies in a wide variety of sectors, such as retailer Lunn’s Jewellers, manufacturer The Signature Works and, in tourism, family-run bus company Airporter.

Robert says: ‘Businesses in some industries have managed to adapt quickly to a new reality of remote working and social distancing, while others have regrettably seen trade grind to a halt. The unprecedented measures announced by the government will help a lot of companies to survive, and we are hopeful the majority will ultimately recover.’

The bank was able to launch each of the schemes on day one, the majority of applications being approved through an easy, automated process.

‘Getting this financial support in place in Northern Ireland was the result of a huge effort from teams across the Danske Bank, and we continue to work hard to make sure the process is as good as it should be and that we can get money to our customers quickly.

‘There is no doubt that we have an important role to play in the weeks and months ahead to get Northern Ireland moving again. We have the commitment and the capacity to continue to support customers, the community and the wider economy.’


Non Plastic Beach

As the nation braced for the Covid-19 outbreak in March, online retailers initially faced a dramatic slump.

One such brand was zero-waste company Non Plastic Beach, whose e-commerce sales fell by 90 per cent, while trade custom – with major stockists such as Urban Outfitters – ground to a halt.

Established in October 2018, Non Plastic Beach was a ‘coffee-table start’ for founders Gareth, 38, and Nicola Dean, 39, from Woodcote, south Oxfordshire. They grew it into a global brand selling pollution-busting products such as biodegradable toothbrushes, shampoo bars and plastic-free razors.

Suddenly faced with an unexpected downturn in revenue this March, they applied for the government’s Bounce Back Loan (BBL), which provides up to £50,000 relief, interest-free for a year, to UK small businesses, and furloughed their full-time operations manager.

Gareth says: ‘Just before the country was locked down, it seemed like everyone was holding their breath: no one was shopping or spending money. It was deeply concerning, especially since there was no certainty our sales would recover. So it was a relief to be offered short-term financial solutions to protect our business.

‘The application process was very smooth. The money arrived the next day, and we invested it straight back into the business. We were very impressed.’

Originally, this year had been dedicated to increasing business-to-business sales, with freshly inked supplier contracts with everyone from gift shops to garden centres. But when many trade customers closed, Gareth and Nicola used the loan to improve their consumer offering.

‘We increased advertising spend to promote existing products, and launched a few new ones, such as a recycled hardwood soap dish, which has been very popular.’

Luckily, sales did steadily recover and, as such, the business owners are already preparing to welcome back their team.

‘We’re so grateful we didn’t have to lose valuable talent by making redundancies. The flexibility of the furlough scheme reassured us that we could hit the ground running the minute we were ready. ‘We hope the sales boost continues, so we can also comfortably repay the loan in a year’s time. While it doesn’t make up the shortfall in trade sales, it helped us to improve what we offer to customers.’


There’s a wide range of financial support available to firms of all sizes. Details can be found here. To check if your business is eligible, click here.

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