Family Law FAQs
Yes. Our staff and solicitors at Curwens LLP are operating remotely and can offer appointments via video conference or telephone.
Yes. If you have made the decision that your marriage has come to an end, there Is no reason why you cannot apply for a divorce. The Courts had already developed an online system and divorce petitions can be submitted electronically, with the Court fee being paid online or via telephone. If you and your spouse agree to the divorce proceeding, there is no need for anyone to attend Court and all matters can be dealt with electronically. In the event there are any disputes, the Courts are currently operating remotely via telephone, Skype or Zoom.
It is still possible to negotiate the split of the matrimonial finances even if the parties are unable to physically meet each other or their solicitors. As mentioned above, our solicitors are working remotely and can offer flexible telephone appointments or video conferencing. Any paperwork which needs to be exchanged can be done via email and any applications to the Court can be submitted electronically. In addition, it is still possible to employ the services of a family mediator who will also be able to set up a remote meeting via Skype or Zoom.
The majority of children can spend time with both parents even if this means moving between two households during the COVID-19 pandemic. On 23rd March 2020, the Government issued guidance on staying at home which confirmed children could move between their separated parents’ homes. On 24th March 2020, the President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane issued additional guidance for parents subject to child arrangements under a Court Order.
Parents are being encouraged to take a pragmatic and common sense approach to arrangements during the lock down. If there are any safety concerns, for example a child, or indeed the parent is considered ‘high risk’, parents may need to take a view on whether contact during the lock down is in the best interests of the child. If a person in one household or one of the children shows any symptoms they should self isolate immediately and the child(ren) should also self isolate at that same household which may mean not seeing the other parent for 14 days. However, generally parents should ensure a child’s usual routine is followed to ensure minimal disruption.
The Government and Sir Andrew McFarlane’s guidance can be accessed through the following links:
Our solicitors here at Cuwens LLP are still on hand to offer advice and assistance to clients remotely. It is still possible to apply to the Court for injunctive measures, such as non molestation Orders and occupation Orders. We understand it may be more difficult than usual for our clients to arrange appointments, particularly if both parties remain at home away from work. Parties can also obtain advice and assistance by contacting the National Domestic Abuse Helpline through Refuge on 0808 2000 247 or if there is an urgent matter or incident the police should be contacted.
In the event you are unable to agree matters with your spouse, whether in relation to the split of the matrimonial finances, matters relating to children or in respect of domestic abuse, it is still possible to issue an application to the Court. The Courts have developed an online system where all applications can be sent electronically. Although many of the Family Courts have been closed to members of the public, the Courts are still staffed and hearing dates can be dealt with remotely, usually via a telephone hearing or via video conferencing. If your case is out of the ordinary and the Judge decides a face to face hearing is necessary, your case will either be transferred to a Court offering such hearings or your case may be adjourned (delayed) until a later date.
Any hearings already listed to take place, should still go ahead but it is likely your hearing will now take place remotely either via telephone or video conference. If your case is complicated or it is felt it would be unfair to allow the hearing to go ahead remotely, then the Court or your lawyer will contact you closer to the time of the hearing to confirm whether the hearing will be delayed. It should be noted that it is entirely the decision of the Judge in charge of your case and the decision cannot be taken by the parties whether to delay or not, unless there is a good reason.