Sadly for many families the coronavirus situation has come at a time when they are already experiencing great difficulty. Many people involved in a family breakdown will have to deal with issues of separating homes, co-parenting children and continuing divorce proceedings in already incredibly difficult circumstances.
A few weeks ago many people were discussing how to divide assets, divorce proceedings, arrangements for children and finalising financial agreements and looking towards the future when everything would be settled and this uncertain time has undoubtedly brought more unwelcome stress to the family.
However, in spite of the lock down and social isolating, discussions can continue or even commence if not yet started and for many families having extra time on their hands may actually be a positive outcome from the situation as there is more time to assess the position and research future housing needs and plans for children.
The recent stock market crash may result in assets having to be revalued prior to financial settlement as it is important that figures are accurate when financial arrangements are concluded.
In some circumstances it may be sensible to postpone negotiations until the future is a little more certain but for others continuing with the process is psychologically the best approach as an enforced delay can add to the tension and difficulties being experienced.
Whilst most office workers are now working from home, this does not mean that we do not have access to computer systems, to our client files and the ability to talk to clients on the phone about their current situation and any changes that need to be made to agreements already underway. The Court system is still in full operation, although a lot of Courts are running on a limited or reduced staff and Hearings are being held by video or telephone link but many Hearings, particularly Final Hearings are having to be adjourned which is a very frustrating situation for people that have sometimes waited months and months for a Hearing date and gone through a lot of costly preparation only to find that there will be an enforced delay.
The Court system has put in place a number of new measures which are very welcome to family law practitioners such as arranging private Hearings remotely to ensure that directions can move forward during this crisis and these Hearings can often be arranged quite quickly rather than waiting for a full adjournment of a Final Hearing. Discussions can be held between parties with their legal representatives using remote access systems such as Skype or Zoom conferencing which may result in a quicker settlement than waiting for a Final Hearing.
I would like to inform all existing clients and people who are looking for some help during this difficult time that staff at Anderson Rowntree can provide telephone and Skype conversations, either on an initial basis or with existing clients and we will try and make it very much business as usual where possible.
Whatever issues you are facing at this point in time, Anderson Rowntree LLP are here to offer advice on how to approach negotiations and situations during this very difficult time.