Due to Covid-19, more and more family court hearings are being conducted remotely, either over the phone or video, rather than face to face in a physical court room. Some say they can’t follow what is happening and that they even feel ‘deprived of their rights’. (27th October, BBC News). Our co-founder, Katie Alexiou, shares her top 5 tips to make the best out of these difficult situations:
Have all that you need nearby – a glass of water, any essential documents, pen and paper. You aren’t allowed to record the hearing, but you can take notes.
Have a system in place with your advisors for contacting them during the hearing, for example by WhatsApp or text.
Find out in advance if you will be expected to have video and sound on or if you will be off screen and muted. Ensure you know how to join the call or meeting beforehand.
Treat it as though it is a face to face hearing – dress appropriately.
Don’t be afraid to say if you can’t hear properly and need something to be repeated.
Guidance on ‘How to join telephone and video hearings during coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak’ states there is support for people who require an interpreter or reasonable adjustments. If you need additional help, notify the relevant people at the earliest opportunity. If you can’t afford representation, Level’s partner charity, Support Through Court, might be able to help you with free practical, procedural and emotional support at telephone and video hearings. Their helpline is open Monday to Friday 9:30am to 4:30pm. Find out more about Support Through Court here. Remote hearings aren’t easy for anyone, but with enough preparation, you can make it work for you.