FAQs : Law, Divorce, Financial and Child Arrangements during COVID-19 Pandemic

UPDATED 26 MARCH 2020

 

At Sharp Family Law, we recognise how our client’s lives have been changed dramatically by the Coronavirus outbreak and the arrangements now put in place by the Government. This page has been created to help inform and answer the many questions you are asking at this time.

How will COVID-19 impact Child Arrangements

How do you self-isolate when the children have to share their time equally between parents? What if you require supervised contact from isolated family members?

This is the official guidance from the President of the Family Division issued on 24th March 2020 on children act proceedings in light of Covid-19.

Two points worth noting are:

  • the movement of children under 18 between separate parental households is one exception to the Government’s Stay at Home Rules;
  • if direct contact is missed due to the virus then the Court will expect indirect alternatives to be arranged.

Movement between households is not mandatory – there is a need for parent’s to be sensible and assess each situation on its own merit. The risk of infection, the family’s health and the presence of vulnerable individuals with each household needs to be considered.

Remember this is temporary. Be reasonable with your accommodation. However – this is not the time to shut down all contact with the other parent – consider how stressful and anxious this time is for many children.

There are many indirect contact methods being offered, as well as the usual Skype, Facetime and phone-calls, to enable your children to stay in touch with both parents.

What is the impact of COVID-19 on the courts? Are they shutting down for people in the midst of divorce?

Family Courts are still officially open, but many are suspending hearings and either adjourning these or organising video and telephone hearings where possible. Bear in mind this is an unprecedented time, and public services are working hard to find alternative and safe solutions and minimize the impact this will have. We do anticipate some cancellations and certainly delays.

We are following the situation closely and are constantly being updated by HM Courts & Tribunals, the Law Society and the President of the Family Division on what the courts are doing during this time. We will tell you what this will mean for your case.

How to work with your solicitor remotely to keep your case moving forward

All our solicitors are working remotely and have full and secure access to your case file and documents. We can communicate with you by email, mobile or video conference (Skype/Zoom). Please do let your solicitor know which that works best for you.

Can you start a divorce during COVID-19

Yes. The divorce proceedings systems are still running, both on paper and through the online government site. We have no words yet about possible delays in the Court. We are on hand to assist you in this process.

Please be aware that we are updating this article as and when we receive further guidance from the government and the Courts.