When you do finally get your day in court, you’re likely to find that your hearing is a remote one. In order to adhere to social distancing rules, teleconferencing or video conferencing technology is being used to connect all relevant parties and hold hearings virtually.
There’s nothing to be worried about with a remote hearing. It’s all quite straightforward and proceedings should be mainly the same – the only obvious difference being that you’re not able to attend in person.
But just like with an ordinary court case, it’s important to prepare for a remote hearing. Here are some key points to bear in mind:
· Read all the instructions you’re given extremely carefully. Whoever is organising your hearing should email you with all the information you need to access it. Make sure you read everything carefully and ask questions or seek clarification well in advance.
· Get used to the platform. When you’re sent the instructions for accessing the hearing, take some time to get set up and get used to the platform. By familiarising yourself with how it all works, you’ll be more comfortable on the day.
· Make sure you have a quiet space in your home. You need somewhere with a strong broadband signal, where you’ll be comfortable and not likely to be disturbed by other members of the household.
· Prepare just like you would for an ordinary court hearing. Think about the issues you want to raise and how you’ll present them, writing everything down clearly and concisely. If it’s a video hearing, you should also consider preparing something suitably smart to wear.
· Speak to a family lawyer. Your divorce solicitor is there to guide you through your preparations, so make good use of them. Ask questions, seek advice and do all you can to prepare.
Could remote hearings continue after coronavirus?
According to data from the Family Court, around 85% of all court hearings are now taking place remotely. There were 1,850 audio-only and 1,100 video hearings on 6th April, up from 100 and 150 respectively on 19th March.
Some leading family law experts are now predicting - and indeed advocating for - remote hearings to be used even after the coronavirus outbreak is over. Family lawyer Graham Coy believes that remote hearings are more efficient and could help family courts to clear an ever-increasing backlog of cases. Speaking to familylaw.co.uk, he said:
“Video hearings will cut costs, speed up the process. Many people have given up on using the UK court system because it takes too long. For a lot of cases, in-person hearings simply aren’t necessary. Just in the last two weeks there have been many complex family law cases which have been successfully resolved, despite parties and their legal teams being spread across the country. Once the outbreak is over, the judicial system should continue to use this technology to expand court capacity.”
For expert legal advice and support as you prepare for a remote divorce hearing, get in touch with Wirral divorce solicitor Tracey Miller Family Law.