Could COVID-19 be classed as a “Barder” event and re-open financial settlements for divorce?

A Barder event is where exceptional circumstances allow a party to re-open what was intended to be a final financial remedy order on divorce.  Whether COVID-19 constitutes such an event for final orders on divorce is very complicated.

Back in 2008 the financial crisis which saw property valuations drop dramatically was not considered a Barder event by the courts.  Their view at that time was that fluctuations, both high and low, in the economic market are inherent, could be foreseen and therefore were not a Barder event.

The news is currently full of speculation around what constitutes a Barder event.  Divorce lawyers are contemplating the effect it could have on their clients, but, are mindful that we are still at the beginning of the pandemic and have yet to realise it’s full consequences.

We will undoubtedly see cases where one or both parties feel circumstances have changed considerably and request that an order be revisited.  The individual circumstances of the case will need to be investigated and it will also depend on how long ago the final order had been obtained because to successfully argue that a Barder event has occurred you need to act promptly.

It is therefore vital that all ongoing financial cases and recently concluded financial cases are reviewed to see whether the valuations which were being relied upon, whether in respect of properties or businesses, are still correct in the current circumstances.

Each case will be unique and will vary significantly due to each individual specific circumstances.  If you would like to discuss separation, divorce, maintenance, arrangements for children during this difficult time please contact Ceri Thomas at