Family Law: The wheels of justice will keep turning despite disruptions by COVID-19
Throughout the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it is vital to ensure that those who turn to the Court for protection and justice are still provided with a service to meet their needs. It is equally important to ensure that Judges, Court Staff, Solicitors and litigants are kept safe from infection.
The President of the Family Division has made it clear that the Family Court is to try to replicate (as closely as possible), all types of ‘live’ hearings, up to and including final hearings through remote access. This means that hearings can and will still go ahead, but instead of physically attending the Court, hearings will take place using technology such as Skype for Business, Zoom, Microsoft Teams or other conferencing software. There is also the option to conduct hearings on the telephone or in paper form only.
On 23 March 2020, the HM Court & Tribunals Service confirmed that the High Court Family Division will be dealing with urgent work only and that all hearings are to be held remotely.
What to do if you have a Hearing listed during Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
It is down to the Court to decide how the hearing should go ahead, however, it is very unlikely that the Court will order a face-to-face hearing.
If you have a hearing listed, it is important to speak to your solicitor if you are represented. If you are the Applicant, your solicitor will need to make the necessary arrangements with the Court and all other parties for the hearing to proceed remotely (i.e. by video or telephone audio). If neither party is represented, the Court will still need to make the necessary arrangements and organise the hearing to go ahead remotely.
Depending on the type of hearing listed and urgency of the matter, the Court might decide that it is appropriate for the hearing to be adjourned and dealt with at a later date. Alternatively, the parties may decide that the matter can be dealt with without a hearing. The parties may wish to try to settle the issues through written communication or partake in mediation or arbitration. Your solicitor will be able to advise you on the best options available on a case-by-case basis.
Overall, it is important that all parties take a proactive and rationale approach to the situation, planning ahead and where possible, narrowing down the issues between them to assist the Courts.
How can Ellis Jones help?
Whatever your circumstances, our experienced Matrimonial Department is still fully operational and able to support its new and old clients through these difficult times. Our expert Family Law Solicitors and Mediators are working from home and able to continue to assist with all types of hearings with the technology in place to ensure that all hearings are able to proceed remotely. We have already successfully organised a two day final hearing with the High Court Family Division, via our video conferencing system.
Whether you are an existing client or in need of assistance for the first time, we can assist you and arrange meetings via Skype, Zoom, FaceTime or other telephone conferencing facilities that suit you. Our Matrimonial Department are able to offer specialist advice remotely, covering the following areas:
- Legal Advice in relation to Children
- Divorce and Finances
- Domestic Violence (Occupation Orders & Non-molestation Orders)
- Civil Partnerships
- Options for Resolving Family Issues
If you have any queries in relation to the above or require any advice, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01202636223 to book a remote appointment with one of our expert Family Law Solicitors or send us an email enquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.