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A huge backlog of family cases, increased by lockdown, is just one of many challenges facing family lawyers, writes Katharine Freeland

The low down

The lockdown has forced family law practitioners to adapt rapidly. They were already managing in difficult circumstances: the physical state of the courts is poor, the judges who preside over them vary in quality, and high numbers of litigants in person complicate matters further. There is Brexit, which could mean reciprocal agreements with European Union countries to facilitate fair arrangements do not continue. And now lawyers face the dramatic changes in hearing arrangements that the response to Covid‑19 necessitated, about which there are human rights concerns. Child protection applications are up; and property and investment values are in flux or freefall, making financial settlements harder to achieve.

For family law practitioners, lockdown shattered the routine of the working day. Court hearings not postponed are conducted online or on the phone, depending on the technological sophistication of each court or judge; urgent care proceedings are up; and the evaluation of financial assets in divorce proceedings has been dramatically complicated by share price falls, house price uncertainty and plummeting pension pots.

Read the full article here: Law Gazette

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