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Remote family law hearings during COVID-19

Family law courts and solicitors have had to adapt new measures to safely social distance while maintaining business as usual during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn how remote family law hearings will work and get the answers to our most frequently asked questions about family law updates during coronavirus:

What is a remote hearing?

A remote hearing is a hearing that takes place over the telephone or using video conferencing technology in order to keep social distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Current Government guidance recommends that all parties stay at home and attend the hearing the telephone or using video conferencing tools like Skype, WhatsApp or Zoom.

The meeting organiser will choose their preferred method of communication and send out an email with the details for accessing the hearing along with a date and time.

How do I send an application to the court?

Family law courts are accepting applications by email or through the online portal.

If you need to send an application to start a case or if you need to make an application for an ongoing case, you should first check to see if your court is open via this link. You can send the application to a different court if yours has shut.

Are court dates being delayed?

Many hearings are being delayed due to low numbers of staff. They are prioritising urgent child hearings and injunctions, and all hearings that are occurring are taking place remotely. Most financial remedy cases are being handled on paper.

Contact your solicitor to discuss the arrangements for your hearings or check your post and email consistently for updates if you are representing yourself.

Should I represent myself in my hearing?

Browell Smith & Co’s family law team have been in contact with many clients who were concerned about representing themselves during their hearing regarding child arrangements and financial remedy.

It is very important to prepare thoroughly in advance of a hearing to ensure all details and paperwork are in order and with the court beforehand in order to get the best possible result from a hearing. The court will need your position statement at least one day before the hearing, as well as the other parties.

We have been assisting many people in advance of their remote hearings and are on hand to offer any advice you may need.

What if I cannot attend my hearing remotely?

If you do not have a strong enough internet signal, are uncomfortable using the technology required for a remote hearing or do not have a private space to attend the hearing, you must tell the court as soon as possible.

The court may be willing to adjourn (delay) the hearing or if your case is urgent, it may be able to be held in the court building with social distancing measures in place.

It’s important that you contact the court as soon as possible if you cannot attend the remote hearing – if you fail to attend the hearing, the judge can still make decisions without your input.

What if I cannot afford to cover my maintenance agreement payments?

If you have suffered financially due to the pandemic, you should communicate your circumstances with your former partner, your solicitor and the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) to work out a new or temporary agreement. These are difficult, uncertain times and it is vital to be transparent about your financial situation and clearly communicate with all relevant parties.

How can we make sure we are complying with child arrangements?

 The Government has stated that under-18s who are subject to child arrangement orders are still permitted to move between homes, so your child arrangements should remain in place as usual even during self isolation. If you feel that your partner is using the current restrictions to manipulate your child arrangements, speak to a solicitor for advice on complying with child arrangements.

Learn more about child arrangements during COVID-19.

Support from the North East’s leading family law solicitors

Browell Smith & Co’s family law team were highly prepared for working from home due to our commitment to using modern technology and secure systems. We are here to support you during these uncertain and difficult times and are committed to providing our clients with clear, uncomplicated and cost-effective advice explaining their legal options.

We are accepting all new enquiries so please do not hesitate to contact us if you are experiencing legal difficulties. Ring 0191 250 3251 to speak to our family law team.

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