It’s been a time of great uncertainty since the end of March for those looking to divorce. Lockdown restrictions may be relaxing, but there is a substantial backlog of legal activities delayed by the pandemic. Courts may be opening, alongside hearings taking place remotely via video conferencing but there are still weeks or months of delays ahead.

Collaborative law and client cooperation

For those looking to divorce now, collaborative law offers an alternative to the uncertainty of when, and indeed how, a family court will be able to schedule the hearing. Instead of waiting for a court date, a collaborative law approach enables you and your clients to settle the financial claims arising as a result of a divorce or separation, outside of court.

Collaborative law and video conferencing

Remote video meetings and collaborative law work remarkably well together. The “face to face but not the in same room” tech provides a safe option for your clients meetings to occur safely. You have complete control over the timing and duration of the meetings, and who attends,

Unlike a court hearing, virtual or in person, you and your client are not limited by the judge’s time and availability on any given day. So, you can set your own meeting date and time, resulting in no delay and no court-imposed time limits.

The early days of lockdown and large numbers of people working from home(WFH) has had an unexpected bonus. Previously tech-shy clients are now very familiar with video conferencing. Given that video conferencing apps all work in much the same way, clients will be more accepting of using platforms such as Zoom, MS Teams, Google Meet, Skype and Lifesize (a common app for court hearings). Having said that, at LGFL we have found that clients still appreciate it when we deal with all the technical side of connecting - it’s one less thing to worry about.

The downside of remote court hearings

For many of us who attend court regularly, the challenge with remote court hearings is that we have lost the advantages of being in the court building itself. We are no longer able to negotiate outside of the courtroom, and there is also no time for “court corridor” negotiations.

This is where the collaborative approach comes into its own. Your client and your legal team can “meet” with the other party and their team to negotiate a financial solution directly. You can bring in experts to offer pensions and financial advice you may require, and keep the process moving forward at the pace you and your client are happy with.

No crystal ball

We cannot predict how long court delays may be in the future, not how long it may take to clear the backlog. In the meantime, collaborative law allows both the parties to keep control of their cases. This is a much less stressful solution for both lawyers and clients - and that is very much to be welcomed.