A total of 73% of parents involved in remote Family Court proceedings in the UK have indicated that they do not feel supported during hearings, according to the results of a rapid consultation conducted on post-COVID-19 remote hearings in the court.
The Law Society Gazette reported that of the 173 parents who participated in the consultation, nearly half do not have legal representation. Respondents also raised concerns about communication barriers during proceedings that stemmed from being separated from their lawyers.
“I have read tweets from family lawyers saying remote hearings are so much better because they don’t have to travel as much and they have a better work/life balance,” the respondent said in her statement, which was published by the Gazette. “I rather take exception to these tweets as a person going through possibly the worst situation of my life dealing with a contentious divorce and child proceedings who needs the family law to resolve our situation.”
The report also revealed that many judges and magistrates were especially reluctant to conduct hearings remotely, particularly in cases where evidence is being presented.
“It is too hard to manage the parties in sensitive hearings. We have all had parties sobbing down the phone/live link when you know their children are in the next room,” a magistrate remarked.