If you had a Family Court hearing scheduled following the announcement of the latest UK national lockdown, it’s likely that this will be conducted by video conference or telephone. Family Courts are operational, but with a reduced workforce, meaning that your hearing may be subject to delays.
If your Family Court hearing is set to be held virtually, and you have instructed Holland Family Law to represent you, we will be notified in advance of your hearing and can provide you with the relevant details. If we have not yet heard from the Court and your hearing date is drawing near, we will contact the Court on your behalf.
If you don’t yet have a hearing date having made an application to the Court, unfortunately, you may face a delay. While the Court is accepting applications for new hearings, due to a reduced workforce, processing will take longer.
Under normal circumstances, the Court would schedule a hearing within three months of receiving an application. However, setting hearing dates is currently taking longer.
If your case involves a child or you’re at risk of abuse, the Court will make every effort to prioritise your case. However, if you case is deemed non-urgent, it could be pushed back with preference given to urgent matters.
Virtual Family Court Hearing Preparation
Just because your Family Court hearing is not being held in person doesn’t make it any less daunting. Add to that the potential for technical glitches, then it can be even more stressful. That’s why it’s best to be prepared to minimise stress and the potential for technical problems to scupper your virtual Family Court hearing.
We recommend following these steps to minimise stress and ensure that your virtual Family Court hearing runs smoothly:
Step #1 – Download Video Conferencing Software Ahead of Time
Don’t wait until the day of your hearing to download video conferencing software. Ahead of your hearing date, the Court will email you a video link and instructions on how to download the video software that is used by the HM Courts & Tribunals Service, which is Skype for Business.
You should download this software at least 24 hours before your hearing, giving you plenty of time to set it up. It’s important that you have a strong internet connection to run the software and to avoid being cut off mid-hearing.
Once you have downloaded the software, it’s recommended that you try a test call with a friend or family member to ensure that you have everything set up correctly – visually and audibly.
Step #2 – Get Comfortable
Amid the latest lockdown, you may have children at home because of school closures and you might be using your home as a workplace. Now, it needs to be a courtroom too. With this in mind, you will need to find somewhere quiet, comfortable and private where you can avoid distractions during your virtual Family Court hearing.
You need to be in the right frame of mind for your hearing, so it’s vital to make sure that anyone else in your home knows that they cannot disturb you. Make sure you are seated comfortably and have some water to hand so that you are as relaxed as you can be during your hearing.
Step #3 – Get Dressed
It seems obvious, but you might have got into the habit of ‘going to work’ in your dressing gown. However, for your virtual Family Court hearing you must dress appropriately, especially if you’re going to be on video. Dressing appropriately for your hearing can also put you in the right frame of mind.
Step #4 – Get Set
It’s recommended by the HM Courts & Tribunal Service that you arrive for your virtual Family Court hearing at least 15 minutes before the start time. This allows you to set yourself and have any paperwork or notes prepared.
If you need more time because you have not used Skype for Business before, then allow as much time as you need to get yourself ready.
Contact Holland Family Law
Ahead of your virtual Family Court hearing, you can get in touch with the Holland Family Law team if you have any questions or concerns.
You will need to prepare for a virtual hearing in exactly the same way as an in-person Court appearance, which means that we will be able to provide representation and advice throughout your hearing.