The recent Government measures in light of the coronavirus pandemic insists that those who can, must stay at home. This has led to an increase in the number of people working remotely. Now more than ever, people are reliant upon technology in order to ensure that the everyday workings of their lives continue. This also impacts family matters by way of clients, courts and indirect contact between children and parents.
The Court’s approach to technology
Sir Andrew McFarlane, the President of the Family Division and Head of Family Justice, has issued national guidance for Family Courts across the country. He has confirmed that, during this period of uncertainty, the default position should be that all Family Court hearings are undertaken remotely either via email, telephone, video or Skype. He also confirmed that where fairness and justice require a court-based hearing, and it is safe to conduct one, then a court-based hearing should take place.
This means that solicitors, barristers and their clients will need to adapt in order to comply with the guidance. Court hearings are still taking place but will now be taking place remotely, with the parties dialling into hearings or using a video link. If you have an upcoming hearing and require advice regarding the procedures of remote hearings, please do not hesitate to contact us to arrange a consultation with one of our solicitors.
Technology within families
Technology also has a part to play within separated families. Given this is an uncertain and tumultuous time, separated parents should act in a co-operative manner and encourage the use of indirect contact by way of Facetime, Skype, Zoom and telephone calls.
In high conflict families, the willingness of separated parents to facilitate indirect contact will likely be an issue. However, parents should exercise common sense and focus on the children’s best interests.
Benefits of embracing technology
This global crisis is creating turmoil and devastation for both businesses and families. Notwithstanding this, there are potential benefits that may arise from our new way of working and living. The courts have now been forced to move away from their archaic systems and instead must now embrace technology and flexibility. It also demonstrates and reminds both lawyers and clients that meetings, conferences and court hearings can successfully take place by remote means.
Embracing this new use of technology should also encourage separated parents to “think outside of the box” in how they promote and facilitate indirect contact. Technology will now become part and parcel of the life of a modern child, as such parents must now adapt and take advantage of the flexibility that technology will afford them.
If you wish to discuss the above with one of our experienced and specialist solicitors, please telephone 02920 197203 to arrange an initial consultation.