How Family Law is adapting to a ‘virtual’ world

In just a few months, Covid-19 has seen normal life change dramatically. Some changes have had devastating consequences and other changes have brought potentially positive changes to the way we live now and in the future.

As we establish ourselves in the ‘new normal’, many processes have also had to adapt to our new way of life. This includes how we mediate, divorce and even get married. As we continue to adapt to the evolving policies surrounding the lockdown, the Internet has been somewhat of a silver lining as we enter the new virtual world.

Getting used to virtual contact

Video chat, naturally, has gained a huge increase in use as many businesses send their employees to work from home and in-turn have still needed a way to communicate to large groups of people at once.

However, video chat is not just for the people within a business; the way of the online phone call has seen many legal services convert to this new way of communication in order to keep some sort of normality for families who would have otherwise been in an office environment or courtroom.

Virtual Mediation

Many legal practices have transformed their mediation services to become ‘Virtual Mediation’ which has given couples and families the opportunity to continue discussing matters relating to divorce, children or separation, in the same amicable manner, whilst being in the position of lockdown.

Virtual mediation can prove useful for those experiencing issues when it comes to child arrangements and who wish to enter a ‘virtual space’ where they can share their issues, with a legal professional present to guide the conversation.

For further information, read Mediation.

Virtual Divorce

The Coronavirus outbreak could see increased numbers of UK divorces. We have seen this in many UK headlines from the perspective of China and understand that as many families have no choice but to isolate together, the pressure of this could lead to more divorce enquiries.

What about the couples already going through a divorce before lockdown? Some have reported couples continuing their divorce proceedings over Zoom, which gave them more flexibility, less worry about travel and even emotionally as they didn’t have to see their partner’s reaction to messages being sent via each other and through their lawyer.

Virtual Marriage

Not to leave one without the other, aside from divorces going digital, weddings have also taken a new approach by utilising these online conference tools.

This way of getting married has been successful in places such as New York, where an Executive Order was signed in mid-April to allow for couples to apply for marriage licenses online.

This method of getting married has yet to reach the UK but it’s another example of how the world is coping with the Coronavirus and how many families and couples are trying to continue life as normal as possible, even with the current restrictions.

What’s next for the virtual world of Family Law?

With lockdown measures slowly being eased, in light of the Government’s roadmap to re-opening the country, many people will still want to use virtual tools to accomplish their objectives.

Virtual Arbitration, for example, a form of dispute resolution, is another legal service many can continue, as the process can be a quick and streamlined one, that can still be completed through video calls and other means of online communication.

Even when we reach a point of lockdown restrictions being eased, we predict the Family Courts will be experiencing a considerable backlog and so to ease some of these pressures, many legal professionals will be looking for alternative and creative ways to continue their services.