We are all currently living in unprecedented times due to the onslaught of the Covid-19 disease. Individuals and families are requiring to isolate from elderly relatives, friends and work colleagues. All those familiar mutual networks of support that we have taken for granted are now dramatically curtailed.
We are fortunate, however, to live in an age where we can video call family and friends. Not quite the same as direct contact but a virtual hug is better than no hug at all! We are also lucky to be able to work remotely and to be able to conduct business as usual with our clients. Quite a different situation to those who lived through the flu pandemic in 1918.
Sadly the effect of Covid-19 could be particularly difficult for parents who have separated and who have children living in two homes. For these families, there is even more stress and uncertainty. There is the clear concern that some parents may try to use the Covid-19 situation to obstruct contact or shared care arrangements. Also, depending on who is living in each home, there could be a wealth of problems that arise in terms of trying to agree what approach to take regarding self-isolation which will then impact on the smooth running of shared care or contact arrangements.
Parents are also worrying that the courts will not be able to take any action if there is a dispute, as it is well known that courts are trying to limit hearings as much as possible to avoid the spread of the disease. However, clients can rest assured that Covid-19 related disputes will be dealt with in almost exactly the same way as any other child welfare matter.
All family team members at BTO are working remotely. Our names and contact details are below. If you need advice just send us an e-mail by clicking the hyperlink and we are here to help.
As with any child welfare dispute, we will have to go through all the facts and circumstance of your case and give you bespoke advice based on your particular situation. The hope is that agreement can then be reached between you and your former partner about the best way of dealing with your particular situation without needing to go to court. This agreement can potentially be achieved between you and your partner directly, by lawyers representing each of you and negotiating on your behalves, or by mediation via a video calling method.
As with any child welfare dispute, Court is the last resort in most cases but, as things stand, if the matter is urgent, the court can still deal with a Covid-19 related dispute. Courts are being innovative in this regard and to balance justice with avoiding the risk of transmission of Covid-19, they are allowing hearings to proceed based on written submissions or via telephone or video conferencing.
Accordingly, clients should not assume that the courts will not be able to hear their case due to Covid-19. At the moment, if necessary, a Sheriff or Judge will still make orders if there is an urgent child welfare-related dispute and will do so based on what is in the child’s best interests. These best interests will take into account all of the relevant facts and circumstances which will, of course, include Covid-19 considerations for that child.
As everyone is aware the Covid-19 situation is evolving daily. The information contained in this blog is accordingly correct at the time of writing on 25th March 2020. If you require assistance please do not hesitate to get in touch with us and we will give you up to the minute advice.
We can be contacted as follows :-
Lesley Gordon, Partner & Accredited Specialist: E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Morven Douglas, Senior Associate & Accredited Specialist: E: email@example.com
Marjory Blair, Senior Associate: E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Debbie Reekie, Associate: E: email@example.com
Beverley Addison, Solicitor: E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Brittany Thomas, Solicitor: E: email@example.com
Amanda Richardson, Paralegal: E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Keira Greer, Trainee Solicitor: E: email@example.com