In our Ask The Legal Expert column we get the latest specialist advice from JCP Solicitors. Laurie Taylor, an Associate Solicitor in the Family Team who covers JCP’s South East Wales offices including Caerphilly, gives some insight into the way Family Hearings are functioning during the pandemic.
I have an appointment for a Family Hearing in Court, to settle a dispute with my ex partner over the care of our daughter. This is going to be done via a video link. Will this make things more complicated for us?
The pandemic has left its mark on every part of our life, including the way our Courts function. Measures were put in place quickly to ensure the public had access to justice despite the restrictions on face-to-face contact. So, if you have a Family Hearing, the Court will consider the best platform for your case depending on the circumstances, sensitivity and complexity of the case.
Various platforms are available as an alternative to attending court in person, including telephone conferences to connect you with the judge and other parties, hybrid hearings, which see some parties being present at Court and others attending via video, or telephone and Cloud Video Platform.
No matter which tools are used, before the hearing starts, the Court will advise you that the hearing will be recorded and ask you to confirm that no other person is with you during the hearing, to ensure confidentiality. Some people favour remote hearings because they mean less time away from work for the parties involved – attending court can involve a lot of travel and waiting time. Remote hearings are efficient, too, since your hearing will start at the pre-arranged call-time and you will get your allocated slot before the Judge, uninterrupted. Many people find remote hearings less intimidating, too, which can be particularly important during Family Hearings, where emotions can run high anyway.
However, some vulnerable people may feel less supported, since they cannot have family, Cafcass officers, support workers or social workers with them throughout the process and people who struggle with technology might find remote hearings more stressful.
Our Family team is happy to talk you through the process to make sure you are confident and comfortable with the process. For more information, contact Laurie.firstname.lastname@example.org or 029 2086 0628.
The question posed is based upon a hypothetical situation. This content does not constitute legal advice and is provided for general information purposes only.