11 November 2020
Social distancing measures have had a significant effect on all our lives and that includes how the Family Courts are operating.
Most Family Court hearings are being held remotely to avoid people from getting ill from the coronavirus infection. This means the courts have had to adapt and so most family hearings are held by video or by phone. However, in some situations, in the interests of fairness and justice, a court-based hearing may be necessary. Courts will remain open and continue to run throughout the planned four-week national lockdown.
What is a remote hearing?
Basically, a remote hearing is one which is held without the people involved coming into court in person. If your case is being heard you will join the hearing by phone using telephone conferencing technology or by video link using a computer, laptop or a tablet or even a mobile phone with the use of video platforms such as Skype and Zoom.
You should be given instructions ahead of the hearing on how to use these. If you are unsure you could ask your solicitor to do a trial run for you.
This aside, a remote hearing is exactly the same as a hearing where you and your spouse come into court in person. The court has the same powers and will expect everyone to treat it just as seriously as a normal hearing.
In some cases a hybrid hearing is held, which is a mixture of a remote hearing and a normal hearing, when some of the people involved will attend the court in person and others will join remotely by phone or video.
Family Court cases are confidential
Be aware it is a criminal offence and a contempt of court for you to record the hearing without permission.
At the start of the hearing the judge will probably explain that the hearing is being recorded for the purposes of the court, which also happens when hearings are held in court in normal circumstances.
The judge will check with everybody to make sure that they are on their own and somewhere private.
Don’t forget the mute button
It is easy to accidentally talk over other people during a remote hearing which can stop people from hearing what is said and cause confusion. Therefore, the judge will probably be strict in making sure everyone takes it in turn to speak, to stop unnecessary interruptions.
When you are not talking it is a good idea to put your device on mute, turning off your microphone unless you are talking.
If you are considering a divorce but are worried about the prospect of a remote hearing, please contact Hayley Eachus who heads the Family Law team at Phillips Solicitors by emailing [email protected] or by calling 01256 854633.
Alternatively, click here to go to our contact page.
This article is current at the date of publication set out above and is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.
Please call us or email and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
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