Family Law

Coronavirus COVID-19 Services Update – Family Law

At EMG Solicitors, all of our departments are operating as effectively as we possibly can. We are fortunate in that we can work remotely with very little disruption to our cases. Our family solicitors, Julia, Sue, Gemma and Jo are all working remotely and are available as always to help existing and new clients.

Our team really like having face-to-face contact with our clients and with each other, but for now, we are helping do our bit to keep our community safe and our offices are closed. We have put together a list of some of the common queries we have helped with since the pandemic crisis started. We urge you to contact us with any query you have, whether it seems big or small. We are here and we want to help.

Read our latest blog by Gemma Holmes, Solicitor in our Family Team

Family FAQ’s

What happens with my existing child arrangements at this time?

Arrangements should continue, keeping structure and routine is so important. Any child arrangements orders remain in full force.

Can we change the arrangements we already have for the children? What if they are part of a court order?

Whether the arrangements for your children are part of a court order, a parenting agreement or any informal agreement – they can always be varied if you can agree. Make a note of any changes whether long or short term and if longer term and there is an order in place, you can have the terms of the order varied by consent.

Our arrangements for the children change depending on whether it is holiday time or term time, I am not sure which routine we should currently be following?

It is currently term time, remember lots of schools remain open and functioning for the children of key workers. These are unprecedented times however and you may want to adapt the arrangements to work around school closures and changes in your daily working lives. However, at this time of change and uncertainty, children, just like us, need a feeling of security and stability.

What if my child becomes unwell, or someone else in our household and we have to self-isolate?

Government guidance takes precedence at this point and any one falling in to the category of requiring self-isolation should do so for their safety and the health and safety of others. Co-parents should be understanding of these issues. If a child is with their non-resident family when self-isolation becomes a requirement then you may need to consider the child returning to their resident parent but then that family will also need to self-isolate in line with government guidance.

I am supposed to be attending a court hearing soon, are courts still open?  Will my case be cancelled?

Courts are operating as usual and all those involved are working hard to make this as seamless as is possible. Hearings are being dealt with remotely where possible and you and your representative will be able to conference before and after via telephone or video conferencing. If you have an ongoing case with a court hearing coming up soon, our team will be contacting you to discuss how we can work effectively for you.

I am almost at the end of my divorce and finances case, we had almost finalised a financial agreement and now I have been advised to retract my offers. What do I do?

You should listen to the legal advice that you are being given. There is no one who is unaffected by this current crisis and we all feel some anxiety about the future. Family lawyers are working collaboratively to find the best way to continue to negotiate and progress cases but we have to be mindful, especially in complicated financial cases, of the real financial impact of COVID-19 upon the valuation of a number of family assets, especially pensions and businesses. A number of offers have been retracted, this is upsetting and frustrating but it is not to be seen as a hostile move by the other party, it is more likely to be a holding position until we have some clarity about finances once again.

There is lots in the media about couples and families in crisis due to having to spend days, weeks or even months stuck at home with each other. I am worried about the state of my relationship at the end of this.

It is completely natural to worry, we are all being forced into a completely unnatural way of living and whilst some people might be able to embrace some bonus family time, others are going to find it incredibly difficult for a number of reasons. Follow these tips:

  1. Remember, you are not alone. There are a number of support groups and crisis lines you can access and as more become available we will provide links to these services.
  2. Do not put undue pressure on yourself to keep everything turning. You are likely being thrust into a number of new roles; home-worker, carer, educator, entertainer, cook, cleaner. Relax your standards and try and work together as a household team. Share the burden.
  3. Accept that you are occasionally going to be annoyed with those you are living with and that you too will annoy them.
  4. Laugh. Go outside. Open windows. Try to be mindful. Give each other privacy.
  5. Think about organising things you do not usually have time to focus upon. Remember all of our departments are open and operating effectively, we can help you with those tasks you have not had time to complete, whether this is writing your will or organising a family trust.

Me and my partner have recently separated, we still live in the same house. What can I do?

Try and agree for one of you to make alternate arrangements. It is hard for most families to spend all of their time together and so if there is already difficulty in your relationship or you are no longer able to communicate, this time is going to be much more difficult for you both. Try and be reasonable. Which of you could move out? Can you assist the other person financially? If you have to remain in the same property then try and agree to give each other certain privilege time in particular rooms e.g. the kitchen and the tv room to allow some privacy.

Things are really bad at home, I haven’t talked to anyone about it before but my partner can be physically abusive towards me. Now everywhere is shut and I have no one to help me.

If you are suffering in a physically abusive, controlling or verbally abusive relationship you must contact us as soon as you can, whether by email or telephone and we will help you. We are operating just as always and the courts are open and will always make provision for emergency protection in these cases. There may be things that we can do that you are not aware of so, please, if you are in this position, contact us and we will explain your options.

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EMG Solicitors | Updated 01 April 2020