Graeme Fraser, OGR Stock Denton LLP
The coronavirus disruption has created unprecedented pressures. The outbreak generated a significant increase in confusion and distress for parents. Domestic abuse came to the fore of public consciousness. The financial impact of the lockdown could mean higher marriage and divorce rates. Professional valuers may find it impossible to assess investments or properties reliably while the market is in flux. A re-evaluation of earning capacities of spouses is more likely in financial remedy cases. At the beginning of the lockdown, hearings were often postponed. Subsequently, remote hearings have become the predominant method of hearing to prevent further delay. It is difficult though to see how the remote court can provide a lasting solution to those with vulnerable needs. Evolving technology has been successful leading to improved use of document management software. Family lawyers need to adopt more principled approaches due to the limited availability of the in person court. This includes greater engagement of non-court options that reduce confrontation and conflict. The coronavirus disruption delays but does not remove the need to find reciprocal arrangements with EU countries once the transitional phase of Brexit ends. Significant further changes to family law practice are expected.
The full article will be published in the September issue of Family Law.