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Business as usual?

Business as usual?

Lots of law firms who provide Family Law advice are blogging and tweeting about it being “business as usual”.  Practically, our team are managing home-working and we are continuing to keep in touch with our clients by email, telephone and secure video conferencing. Our desk phones are all diverted to our mobiles; we are speaking to our colleagues on Zoom or its equivalents daily. Our files were all paperless anyway so we have full access to all of the information we had in the office. As a firm, all of our lawyers were already well set up to work flexibly from home or in any of our offices and we were quickly able to arrange for our support teams to do that too. We are now a fully-fledged virtual law firm.

Family Law is an area where clients continue to need guidance and reassurance, even more so in these challenging circumstances.  We have been able to engage with new clients remotely, and while it would be preferable to meet a new client face to face, we can get around the current restrictions using the technology available to us. Mediation and Collaboration services can theoretically continue. On the face of it then, there is nothing very different about the way we are working for our clients.

Yes, the courts are pretty much shut down to all but what is deemed the most urgent and necessary business – only urgent applications relating to the care and protection of children, child abductions cases, interdicts, cases where there is an imminent time-bar and so on are being heard. For other issues which might seem important and time critical, we first have to persuade the court that they are sufficiently urgent before we can have them dealt with.

For other family cases, whether they are in court or not, we can continue to negotiate financial settlements, discuss what’s best for children and advise on how to parent apart.

But none of this really is ‘business as usual’ if your relationship has broken down.

  • Can you even make a decision about the future of your relationship if neither of you can move out in the near future?
  • How do you work out what’s best for your children during lockdown? Government guidelines say that they should continue to move between their parents’ homes, but is that still right for your family? How can you make a toddler concentrate on a video call for more than a couple of minutes when all they want to do is wander off and play? What if you and their other parent live miles apart?
  • Is it really possible to negotiate a financial settlement at the moment?
  • How do you predict what is going to happen to house prices? What if you’re worried about the value of your house having fallen or whether you can still get a mortgage?
  • What does it mean for your divorce settlement if the value of your pension or investments has suddenly dropped?
  • What about your business? Is it going to survive?
  • Can you revisit a settlement already agreed because the financial landscape has completely changes since you agreed it?

All of these sorts of issues are going to have a fundamental impact on the decisions which you need to make when you are separating or divorcing. So, whilst it may be business as usual or something close to it for lawyers, it’s far from it for our clients. We need to recognise that there will be more questions than answers at the moment. There may not be any easy answers for some time and we need to be mindful of that. It’s our job to help you to identify and weigh up all of your options when you are separating or divorcing to allow you get on with the life you want to lead in the future.

Writer Damian Barr tweeted last week: “We are not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm. Some are on super-yachts. Some have just the one oar.” This storm might be especially rough for people who are separating, whether they are just at the start, right in the midst of it or nearly through the other side. As Family Lawyers we need to keep reminding ourselves of that.

We are here to answer you questions and help you make decisions that are right for you and your family.  Speak to any of our Family Law team by calling 03330 430150 or contacting us online.

Lucy Metcalf is a specialist Family Law Solicitor. If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in the article, please email Lucy on or call 0131 225 8705. 

Posted by Lucy Metcalf


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