22nd April 2020.
Musings from a family lawyer at this difficult time.
These are days that are difficult not only because of the physical, financial and emotional challenges we face but because these are unprecedented circumstances. There is no book or website that we can consult to deal with all the problems that have arisen in the last couple of weeks.
However, as new situations arise, expert advice is as important as ever with hopefully a tailored answer, or at least someone able to point a client in the right direction particularly in respect of Family Law.
The Government have issued guidance allowing parents to travel between properties to collect their children who might live, post relationship breakdown, between two homes. This scenario is in itself causing issues, where one parent is preventing contact suggesting a child must self-isolate when in reality the child’s health is not an issue. It can be a power game and the Courts are likely to have to tackle this problem at some stage. At present, it tends to be dealt with by way of a negotiation but ultimately may lead to one or both of the parties having to consider mediation ahead of issuing an application under the Children Act 1989.
Many couples are having to co-exist in the same property at a time where they may have earlier started to talk about separation and divorce. The stresses must be unbelievable particularly with home schooling or even elderly relatives in lockdown at the same time. Some couples may have moved back in together post-divorce as it has proven impossible to work full time and juggle childcare if there is no extra help from outside and possibly no garden at one of the properties which would allow the children some fresh air and an escape for the parents.
Different parenting styles may have been one of the issues which caused a couple to separate and having now to adjust to the current health crisis and revisit some of these thorny issues can be particularly difficult.
Consider also how current proceedings are being dealt with. The Courts are still running although there are delays and each Court does seem to have a different policy and different IT logistics for remote hearings.
Valuing assets for the purposes of disclosure is also proving difficult with surveyors being prevented from physically visiting properties and desktop valuations not always being acceptable. Liquidity which is often vital to working out how a couple can re-house may be currently impossible to finalise and, as a result, a settlement might need to address how interim funding is resolved with bills having to be paid and income either reduced or uncertain.
Rather than struggle with a problem on your own, do consider contacting Jolliffes Family Law team as we may be able to propose some solutions or at least some creative paths which might lead to an answer even if it is short-term until the current pandemic is over.
If you have any queries or feel we can help, please contact either Elizabeth Hassall or Helen Davies as part of Jolliffe & Co LLP’s experienced Family Law team. Both Elizabeth and Helen are Accredited members of Resolution, the specialist organisation for Family Lawyers. Elizabeth is recognised as a leader in her field of law in both prestigious directories, Chambers and the Legal 500.
Our contact details are:
Direct Dial: 01244 356579
Mobile: 07817 019656
Email: [email protected]
Direct Dial: 01244 356644
Mobile: 07935 503469
Email: [email protected]