Today marks the two year anniversary since lockdown measures were first introduced in England to help combat the spread of the global covid-19 pandemic.
Now that restrictions have lifted, with no further isolation requirements and many businesses returning to office environments, Covid-19 seems to have completely faded away from daily life. Although the world appears to have returned to normal, the advent of the pandemic brought with it many changes to the family law industry, some good, some bad and some of which are here to stay.
One of the main issues faced by family law practitioners during the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting periods of lockdown was the absence of in-person court hearings. The courts introduced remote hearings to keep cases moving, a decision which was met by divided opinion throughout the sector. Professionals and clients alike cited problems with technology as a huge barrier to the success of remote hearings, but the benefits brought about by conducting preliminary hearings virtually may mean that remote hearings in some cases will become the norm.
The closure of the Family Courts during lockdown also contributed to an already growing backlog of cases and practitioners contended with long delays with disputes in 2021 regarding the arrangements for children following their parents’ separation taking an average of 40 weeks to resolve.
Domestic abuse cases increased during lockdowns as partners were forced to stay at home together for prolonged periods, with cases rising by approximately 18% since 2018. Similarly divorce enquiries surged with some firms reporting a marked increase following lockdown periods. The introduction of no-fault divorce in April is also expected to drive enquiries as couples look to take advantage of the new, more straightforward and less stressful divorce proceedings.
These are just a few of the business issues that the pandemic brought with it, of course many suffered devastating losses of life, and the virus and lockdowns had profound effects on many people’s physical and mental health and wellbeing. As a result of the pandemic the family law industry has arguably faced one of its busiest and most challenging periods.
Today’s Media and Today’s Family Lawyer would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you all on what has been an incredibly tough couple of years and wish all of our partners, contributors and readers the very best for what lies ahead in hopefully a more “normal” and less Covid-affected world.