THE coronavirus lockdown has undoubtedly caused anxiety and worry for separated parents with children.

Initially there was a concern that the strict ‘stay at home’ guidelines would mean that children of separated families would not be able to spend time with both parents. The confusing comments of Michael Gove on morning television only served to exacerbate the situation. Anecdotal evidence suggested that parents in dispute were taking advantage of the new guidance.

Thankfully the confusion was rectified with the clarification in the guidance that “where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.”

Further anxiety will have ensued with the subsequent closing of courts and non-essential businesses. How could parents resolve child arrangements disputes when all those businesses and professions set up to help were shut?

Thankfully lawyers were quick off the mark with robust IT systems and efficient virtual technology. Many firms have been able to conduct business as usual; allowing us to continue providing excellent client care and clear-thinking advice.

The new normal for client meetings is a video conference with your solicitor in suit and tie and wearing headphones (and a bookcase background). Mediation can progress remotely; applications can be made online and by email. In time, sending an actual letter may become a distant memory, with many firms exploring the possibility of paperless systems.

In due course the family court service has become a virtual setting for all but essential litigation. Most if not all family court hearings are currently being conducted by video or telephone conference. The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) is conducting its preparatory and investigative work remotely so that applications for Child Arrangements Orders can progress as effectively as possible in the best interests of the children involved.

In summary, all is not lost. The process is inevitably different and no doubt unnerving for those seeking advice on child arrangements in difficult times, but that does not mean that the world of family law has stopped turning.

For further help or advice, please contact Family Law Partner Andrew Smith at Lupton Fawcett’s York Office on 01904 561403 or