An Auckland lawyer says there has been an increase in people seeking separation advice after the lockdown lifted, as well as a "big spike" in parenting disputes.

"Lockdown has had a positive effect in bringing some families closer together - but on the flipside, enforced time together has exacerbated existing family tensions, vulnerabilities or risks," says Jeremy Sutton, barrister and mediator at Bastion Chambers.

"Some may have reached a breaking point in their relationship."

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Sutton says they've seen a 25 per cent increase in clients since the lockdown ended.

"The industry is busy post-lockdown with new clients and existing ones seeking finalisation.

"People are more inclined to seek advice right now because of the uncertainty."

According to Sutton, one of the most common disputes has been over child custody arrangements.

"There are many parents, particularly fathers, who have not seen their children at all during lockdown level 4. Those parents are therefore trying to re-establish regular face-to-face contact with the children.

"Parents getting back to normal with childcare is one pressing issue and financial worries."

He explains that due to the economical hit of coronavirus, many parents have lost their jobs so child support arrangements may need to be re-scoped.

"With job losses, child support payments have and will need to be adjusted."


Parents have also needed to find childcare workarounds to avoid putting older family members health at risk.

"There's been a reduction in the family unit. Parents have had to rely on paid childcare so that grandparents are not put at risk of contracting the virus."