As a busy Family Law Team, we are used to not seeing our co-workers daily, we often pass like ships in the night going about our life in and out of the Family Courts all over the County and beyond. Its not unusual to go a week or two and not see anyone from the team; though it frequently happens that we actually bump into each other whilst sat in the advocates room in the dungeons of Sessions house, or perhaps the place that time forgot, Reedley Court (the only court to have some interior improvements that made it worse for its users)

Our team are close knit and rely on each others wealth of expertise and will collectively discuss a particular case to ensure we are doing all we can to achieve the best outcome for our client. Collectively, the team has around 200 years’ experience in the field of Family Law and our monthly department meetings enable us to raise any interesting points of law or a particularly challenging case. Each case worker is a vital part of the wealth of knowledge available to each of us  as we deal with many hundreds of different cases each year. Every lawyer will tell you that no two cases are the same and that is so true. With 18 heads together there is always a solution to any tricky problem.

Then the world of Family Law as we all know it changes dramatically and we are, like most of the country, in lockdown. The daily life we knew is suspended. No one really knows how long we will be like this. All of a sudden our fantastic IT department is tasked with getting us all working from home. Within less than a week this was achieved, an amazing feat given the number of staff involved in lockdown. This was achieved by Head of IT and Associate Partner Steve Garbett and his team. In less than a week they enabled staff to carry on working as normal, but from home. We are all so grateful to them for their efforts since it has allowed us to continue to assist our clients and be ‘business as usual’ during this terrible time of crisis.

All of a sudden we are cut off from each other, in limbo, court hearings were adjourned in the first few days as the Justice system tackled the thorny issue of how to conduct hearings safely and observing social distancing. Guidance from the higher courts came fairly quickly, though it did make for some disruption in the early days. We, as lawyers, are now in the 3rd week of this upheaval and have certainty about how the court will conduct a particular hearing and whether a telephone hearing or conference hearing can and should take place, to ensure our client’s interests are best served by such proposed method of hearing.

There are a number of hearings that inevitably have to be adjourned until normal court working returns; this is evolving on a week by week basis. We as a firm are working our normal hours, albeit remotely, and continue to prepare our client’s cases for any listed court hearings. If you are concerned about the progress of your case please do call us and we will discuss how it is planned to conduct your hearing. We have all the necessary IT equipment to conduct a hearing in whatever format the court requires.

Within two days of the ‘lockdown’ Farleys’ family team held a telephone conference call between the whole team. It made me chuckle as we all came online. You tell the phone your name as you get connected and there followed several minutes of…Nicola, Angharad, Antonia, Tony, Barry, Joanne, Claire, Toni, Jonathan, Karen, Janine, Katie, Ian, Nicola…you get the picture?

“It’s like the Waltons”, I said.

Several of us chuckle and agree. Indeed, it is like the Waltons.

“What’s the Waltons?”, said a younger team member.

Bless, I conclude, there are indeed some advantages to be a teeny bit older since we can remember the Waltons running through all those names at bedtime. So the team carries on with our ‘Waltons’ phone call twice a week to keep up with any developments in the courts approach to hearings and ongoing proceedings, and those of us who have had effective hearings sharing the experience with others. We are in touch with other fellow court users and all ideas are being shared in this new world.

If you are worried about any Family Law matter we are able to assist. The team are still contactable via the usual channels. You can call us on 0845 287 0939 or send your enquiry by email and a member of the team will get in touch with you.