Family Law Advice and Covid-19

 

Throughout the Covid-19 lockdowns and beyond we remain available to provide guidance and support to those struggling with relationship or family issues.

Whether providing immediate legal advice, counselling, mediation or other dispute resolution solutions, our services remain fully operational and available to help you through the issues you may face. We offer online solutions, telephone and video consultations, giving you the reassurance of knowing where you stand and what your options may be in terms of taking things forward. 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.

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 and 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 any children. 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 lockdown, 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 our in-house counsellor, Jo Harrison, please contact our Mediation and Family Consultant Coordinator, Wendy Hoare E: wh@flip.co.uk or T: 020 7420 5000.

Separated Parenting →

Separated parents have often struggled to make sense of the myriad comments and guidance from the Government covering children and parenting arrangements. 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 the parenting arrangements have emerged.

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 on Divorce or Separation here.

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

Child Arrangement Orders and Covid-19 →

Child Arrangement Orders concerning ‘Living with’ or ‘spending time with’ may need careful re-thinking in the changed circumstances associated with Covid-19. Families may face a range of decisions and feel stuck as to how to resolve questions where there are real differences of view.

Guidance has been provided by the Courts as to how any changes necessitated by the lockdowns might be dealt with. Our family lawyers specialising in children matters have provided some helpful interpretation for those struggling to manage the change in circumstances:

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

Careful planning is needed in the face of a court order, but often swift action can be needed too where children are at risk from existing structures worked out in happier times.

Financial Separation →

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

Where agreements simply cannot be finalised because of uncertainty caused by Covid-19, then some level of developing a “holding position” can be discussed and put in place to permit financial separation until the current uncertainties become clear.

We can help you to explore the options available to you 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 if necessary arbitration or litigation. Find contact details and profiles of our top family lawyers here.

In the Middle of Financial Negotiations? →

If you were reaching the end of financial negotiations, it probably seems that, just as a final resolution was in sight, all the pieces have been thrown into the air as as 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.

A holding position could be discussed and agreed to give you the 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.

Find contact details and profiles of our top lawyers here.

Suspended Financial Arrangements →

For those who already had financial arrangements in place, 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 →

With the current lockdown running until 19 July 2021, you may be wondering how the practicalities of instructing FLiP will work.

First meetings:

Firstly, initial meetings are mostly conducted remotely – by way of video conferencing. We can be flexible as to the system used but our primary systems are Starleaf or Zoom both of which you can use without having to download any software; we simply send you a meeting invite and provided you can get online you will be able to access the meeting. These systems are secure and very straightforward to use.

Next steps:

Beyond the first meeting, communications take place pretty much just as they would have done before the lockdowns: you will be able to reach all relevant members of FLiP by telephone and by email. If any further meetings are required, they will be conducted by way of video conferencing.

Dealing with emails and documents:

All emails sent and received on your case are filed on our electronic case management software. This means that, once filed (which most often happens automatically), everyone at FLiP who is involved with your matter can access that email and will be up to date. Similarly, all court documents and other filed documentation is available and accessible by all of your team at FLiP.

If we need to send you very large documents, we can use a system which sends you a web link so that you can retrieve those documents when convenient to you and save them somewhere appropriate, rather than having to wait for large emails to download, or have them rejected by servers due to the file size.

When sending you large pdfs, we can ‘bookmark’ them, so that you can ‘jump’ to specific pages of the document. We can also make them ‘searchable’, so you can more easily find content that you are looking for.

Meeting with your barrister:

We work with all of the leading family law barristers and they use video conferencing facilities too – so we can meet with you and your barrister, albeit remotely, just as we used to before the lockdowns. Indeed, for some clients, this is much more convenient than travelling – and it can actually help reduce costs.

What about from your perspective?

If your living arrangements mean that confidentiality is an issue at your end 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 a drive.

How are the courts working?

The area where the lockdowns have had the most impact is in relation to the courts.

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 been adjourned and there is now a pretty 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:

The Family Court Process in Times of Covid-19

Alternatives to using the courts:

In light of all this, more people are opting out of the court process and are using other means to resolve the issues arising in their case.

We have been successfully running video mediation sessions and lawyer assisted settlement meetings are proving very popular. 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.

Where an adjudicated outcome is sought, but the court is being avoided, parties are making use of arbitration which can also be concluded effectively using video conferencing.

Once a settlement (or arbitrated outcome) has been reached it is possible to submit the terms to the court electronically for the outcome to be approved by a judge. Again, FLiP was ahead of the curve and, prior to the first lockdown, we had already 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 family mediationarbitration and the collaborative approach and we pioneered the use of private FDRs. We are confident that our technology and best practice together with our unrivaled expertise in out of court process options, will ensure the highest levels of service to our clients during this uncertain time.

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

 

During the COVID-19 lockdowns, we’re offering free legal advice for your queries 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.

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