Family Law: Covid 19 – Dispelling the mythPosted: 1st June 2020

Hi there, I’m Gemma Holmes, an Associate Solicitor at EMG Solicitors, specialising in Family and Matrimonial matters. I am based in the Family Department at our Durham branch along with my colleague, Jo Grey and up at Gosforth we have our Team leader, Julia Middleton and our Senior Associate, Sue McArthur.

Since lockdown began, we have all been working remotely from our own homes, along with the rest of the EMG Team. We are in touch with each other daily and continue to discuss the cases that we have over video conferencing on Microsoft Teams which has been great for us. We are so grateful that EMG is a paperless office. This meant that we adapted quickly to working from home, taking on client consultations and court hearings remotely with great success (subject to the occasional interruption by a small child or pet!).

As a collection of family solicitors, collaborative lawyers and trained mediators, we are constantly keeping up with daily developments in our practice area along with following trends on social media. Something we have all noticed and commented upon is the amount of people who have assumed that we must be elated at the current situation, thousands of unhappy couples and families cooped up together in difficult circumstances and this inevitably leading to an increased divorce and separation rate.

As a team, we are strongly against this discussion and feel compelled to try and extinguish it. It is comparable to the equally unattractive comments we see after Christmas relating to the media spun concept of ‘Divorce Day’.  Since lockdown, lawyers have been encouraged to embrace alternative dispute resolution methods, we want to try and avoid cases ending up in court which can be expensive and upsetting for some clients. We have embraced this by extending our family law service to include EMG Mediation. This is really core to our values as family lawyers and completely converse to these other discussions which you might have seen in the media.

We also know that actually, for many families, it is not quite as miserable as commentators suggest. Some couples are enjoying each other’s company again, relationship strains are being eased by a slower pace of life and co parents are working together, collaboratively to deal with the new way of life with their children’s wellbeing firmly cemented at the core of their dealings with each other. We may sometimes need to become involved to advise on the legal position or to formalise agreements, but this is usually a discrete involvement.

There are other people we have spoken to who had already separated prior to lockdown and they have used this time to organise their ‘life maintenance’ and do wish to go ahead with their legal matters now. Some people have found that having more time frees up their ability to deal with things more pragmatically, constructively and holistically.

Between us we consist of wives, partners, mothers, co-parents and pet owners ourselves. We understand many of the issues families are facing up and down the country because we are all living the same situation.

If you require advice in relation to this or any similar matter, please do not hesitate to contact Gemma directly at Gemma.Holmes@emgsolicitors.com or ring us on 0191 500 6989. Alternatively, start your enquiry online today here.