As both family solicitors and mediators, we have had first-hand experience of the frustrations of court proceedings under lockdown and are able to compare the process with mediation.
Although the court has stated that they are prioritising cases involving children, in one case we issued at court at the beginning of May, it took two separate complaints for the court to list the case. Once it had, a hearing date was given in October – some five months after the application – when the usual timescale is six weeks from the application to the hearing date.
During lockdown the courts have also started meeting with children using video calls, which although practical, may raise in terms of who else may be present during the calls, and how children are being supported if they become upset.
In mediation, it is possible to start resolving issues in a matter of days. We are specially trained to meet with children to listen and help each parent to take on board their wishes and feelings. Such meetings remain confidential to the child (unlike a child’s meeting with a court officer), unless the child wants to share what has been discussed; and careful arrangements are made so that the child is fully supported and made safe throughout the meeting.
We are also able to offer children arbitration – where we can provide a decision at a venue and timescale to suit each party.
For more information and to discuss any of these issues, please contact our Family Team on 0345 646 0406 or fill in our online enquiry form and a member of our Team will be in touch.