Family Law Advice and Covid-19

 

We have been providing guidance and support to those struggling with relationship or family issues during the Covid-19 lockdowns and beyond.

We offer immediate assistance, giving you the reassurance of knowing where you stand and what your options may be in terms of taking things forward. Depending on your preference we can meet face to face at our Central London offices if that is what you prefer.  We also offer a range of online solutions including telephone and video consultations. For further information on how we can work by your side to resolve your family law issues, take a look at How We Work With You Now below.

As we begin to emerge from the challenging times caused by Covid-19, we continue to balance our exceptional legal expertise with care and compassion, allowing us to deliver solutions that benefit you for the long term. Read more about our distinctive approach here.

 

Personal Safety →

Sadly, for many, personal safety has been a huge concern during the Covid-19 lockdowns and beyond. Fortunately, there is a lot of help and advice available to support you. We will work with you to understand which options might be best for you.

Our free legal advice helpline is available for questions about domestic abuse and the law relating to children and parenting issues. Further details can be found here.

Beyond dealing with any immediate issues, longer-term solutions may be needed for you and your family. We will work by your side to determine how best to create the new safe start in which you can thrive.

We are experts in advising on the full range of issues flowing from abuse in relationships and will guide and protect you through the difficulties you may face. Read more about the support which we can offer here. Director Helen Greenfield has a particular expertise in helping those who have been affected by domestic abuse. For further information, please contact Helen at E: hg@flip.co.uk or T: 020 7420 5000.

You might find our recent blogs on domestic abuse of interest: further blogs and insights can be found here.

Managing Relationship Stress →

The stresses of the Covid-19 pandemic, whilst seemingly bringing out the best in many people, have also put an inevitable strain on relationships closer to home.

For some it has been an opportunity to take stock about what lies ahead and for some, radical changes in the relationship may need to be contemplated. Not least whether the relationship is still working for everyone.

The steps you take at these “crossroad” moments are life defining and need careful management and great thought.

Speaking to family or friends, however well-meaning, may not always be the right way forward in the heat of these moments.

Talking to counsellors and those with the relevant training and experience can help you to make decisions that will stand the test of time 3 months, 3 or even 30 years down the road.

We understand the pressures that the Covid-19 lockdowns have placed on family relationships, and we have published a range of blogs, offering help and guidance. Take a look at our blogs here.

If you would like to make an appointment with one of our in-house counsellors please contact our Mediation and Family Consultant Coordinator, Wendy Hoare E: wh@flip.co.uk or T: 020 7420 5000.

Separated Parenting →

Many separated parents have struggled to find workable solutions to their parenting arrangements given the ever-changing guidance from the Government during the Covid-19 lockdowns. Each family is different and often each parent has had a very different view of what the rules have required. So, it is no surprise that difficulties and tensions in parenting arrangements have emerged.

Even though many of the Covid-19 restrictions have now been largely relaxed, the way that any parenting arrangements were managed during the lockdowns may have resulted in further long-term challenges.

Our lawyers are experts in advising on the full range of parenting issues from child arrangements orders to relocation and financial support for your children. Take a look at our dedicated website page dealing with Child Arrangements & Parenting here.

We also offer Parenting After Parting workshops and a wide range of parenting blogs are available here.

Child Arrangement Orders and Covid-19 →

During the Covid-19 lockdowns, many parents found that their existing Child Arrangement Orders (concerning ‘living with’ or ‘spending time with’ a parent) needed careful re-thinking particularly when there were genuine differences of opinion on the risks involved or non-compliance by one parent. Now, as the Covid-19 restrictions have largely relaxed, some couples are facing the challenge of picking up the pieces after these difficult discussions and restoring previous arrangements.

Guidance was provided by the Courts as to how any changes necessitated by the Covid-19 lockdowns should be dealt with. Our family lawyers specialising in children matters provided helpful explanations for those struggling to manage the change in circumstances:

If you would like any advice to help you and your partner to reach an agreement on your parenting arrangements moving forward, please contact our talented team of top London divorce and family lawyers at hello@flip.co.uk or T: 020 7420 5000.

Financial Separation →

The end of a relationship often carries with it uncertainty over your future financial security. The impact of Covid-19 added another layer of uncertainty for many.

In some cases, just as a final resolution was in sight, all the pieces were thrown into the air again as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. Uncertainty over needs, asset values, incomes and likely pensions may have put in doubt any arrangements that were about to be agreed.

While for some a pause for thought may be required, for many there may still be a way forward.

Where agreements simply cannot be finalised because of continuing uncertainty caused by Covid-19, then some level of developing a “holding position” can be discussed. This will give time to assess whether the potential structures still make sense as the post-pandemic dust finally clears. You may wish to take a look at our blog on dealing with investment drops during financial negotiations.

We can help you to explore the options available so you are able to make informed decisions regarding next steps. Our lawyers include specialists in advising on the financial consequences of divorce and separation and on varying any financial arrangements which have already been put in place.

At Family Law in Partnership our expert team of family lawyers, mediators and arbitrators can help if you are concerned about your chances of reaching an agreement whether in mediation, negotiation or in arbitration or litigation.  Information on our top family lawyers can be found here.

Suspended Financial Arrangements →

For those who already had financial arrangements in place before Covid-19 took hold, you may find you now need help and guidance stemming from the huge changes that have arisen as a result of the current situation. The assumptions on which any agreements were based may well now look very different.

Spousal maintenance, child maintenance, even the capital and pension orders may (in more extreme circumstances) need to be re-evaluated and adjusted.

Any variation applications should be made quickly. Haste will be even more important in relation to applications to completely set-aside agreements or orders.

For further information, you may find our variation of maintenance pages helpful together with our recent blogs:

For further information or advice on your particular situation, please contact director James Pirrie on E: jp@flip.co.uk or T: 020 7420 5000.

How We Work With You →

Although the Covid restrictions have mostly eased now, we still need to take a prudent approach to our own safety and that of others.

Your personal arrangements:

If your living arrangements mean that confidentiality is an issue you may choose to communicate with us by email rather than by telephone/video conferencing calls. You might choose to speak to your lawyer when you go for a walk or when you are otherwise able to get out of the house.

First meetings:

While we can meet in person at our offices if you wish to do so, the first time we meet is more likely to be by way of video conferencing. So far this has been the preferred option for most of our clients.

We can be flexible as to the video conference system we use, but our primary systems are Starleaf, Teams or Zoom. You can use all of these systems without having to download any software; we simply send you a meeting invitation and, provided you can get online, you will be able to access the meeting. These video conferencing systems are secure and very straightforward to use.

Going forward:

After the first meeting, you can contact the members of your FLiP team via telephone, video conference or email. If any further meetings are required, and subject to your preference, they will be normally be conducted by way of video conferencing. Of course, face to face meetings can be held in the office at any time if that is your preference.

Managing correspondence and documents:

All correspondence, court documents and reports relating to your case will be filed on our case management system and will be available to the FLiP team working on your case.

If we need to send you very large electronic files or documents, we can do this by sending you links to our secure file sharing solutions. These allow you to access and download large files or documents at a time convenient to you. They also avoid the risk of email systems freezing or rejecting emails with overly large attachments.

Meetings with Counsel (barristers):

The leading family law barristers with whom we work all use video conferencing facilities too. This means that we can meet with you and your barrister either online or in person, depending on your preference. For some clients meeting via video is much more convenient than travelling – and it can actually help to reduce costs.

How are the courts working?

The Covid-19 lockdowns had a huge impact on the operation of the family courts leading to changes which continue today.

Different courts have taken different approaches but, generally speaking, unless a matter is extremely urgent or it concerns a matter that cannot be dealt with by way of video conferencing or telephone hearings, the court hearing will take place by video conference or telephone.

These remote hearings often work surprisingly well with cases keeping to a strict timetable as the court needs to dial in all parties and the judge.

Unfortunately, many court hearings have also been adjourned and there is a significant backlog of adjourned hearings to work through. So cases may take longer to come before the court.

If you are involved in a court hearing you may wish to listen to our podcast on how to prepare for a remote court hearing:

Alternatives to using the courts:

Given the impact of Covid-19 on the operation of the courts, more people are opting out of using the court process.

Most of our mediation sessions take place by video conferencing now, and lawyer assisted settlement meetings by video conferencing are proving very popular too. These can be conducted with the assistance of a neutral third party acting as a ‘judge’ (known as a ‘Private FDR’ or ‘Early Neutral Evaluation’), or without. Virtual ‘rooms’ are set up – you and your solicitor and barrister would be in one room, your spouse / partner and their legal team would be in another and then there would be a third room – occupied by the private judge, or vacant for the two barristers to meet and exchange offers etc.

If you would like to achieve a binding settlement  but you do not wish to use the courts you may want to consider using arbitration. We can run arbitrations using our video conferencing facilities too.

Once a settlement (or an arbitration decision) has been reached it is possible to submit the agreed terms to the court electronically for the outcome to be approved by a judge. FLiP was ahead of the curve and, before the first lockdown we had signed up to the HMCTS online portal so that divorces and financial consent orders could be submitted and approved online much more quickly and efficiently than relying on the paper system.

At FLiP we offer exceptional legal expertise combined with intelligent and creative solutions to help you through the difficulties you may face. We are market leaders in all processes for resolving family disputes including family mediationarbitration and the collaborative approach. We also pioneered the use of private FDRs. We are confident that our technology and best practice together with our unrivalled expertise in out of court process options, will continue to ensure the highest levels of service to our clients as we move forward from Covid-19.

For more information on how we can help you to resolve your family law issues, please contact Family Law in Partnership director Daniel Coombes on E: dc@flip.co.uk or T: 020 7420 5000 or contact any other member of our team of top London divorce and family lawyers.

Our Free Advice Line

 

We continue to offer free legal advice for queries resulting from Covid-19 on:

Domestic Abuse

Children & Parenting Law

Our People

 

We have some of the very best London divorce lawyers and mediators, along with accomplished arbitrators, family consultants and counsellors. There’s no one better to handle your case.

Team of Family Lawyers Talking

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