Silk Family Law continues to act for individuals meeting the challenges of separation and divorce throughout the pandemic.
General information, support and guidance can be found on our family law blog.
All advice given is correct at time of posting, although please check latest government advice, which may have been reviewed since each post was published. You can contact us to discuss your situation and seek up-to-date, bespoke family law advice. Some links to relevant posts below:
- Mental health, separation and Coronavirus – looking after your family’s mental health during lockdown
- The financial impacts of Coronavirus on divorce
- Struggling to pay spousal maintenance – here’s what to do
- Negotiating divorce in uncertain times – managing emotions and conflict
- Advice for separated parents on managing shared childcare during Coronavirus
Latest family law news and family court updates
We continue to follow latest government advice, which includes the new national lockdown announced by the Prime Minister at 8pm on Monday 4 January 2021.
The guidance states that courts will remain open and that those involved in the court/justice system are exempt from lockdown rules. Whilst travelling to visit your lawyer is classed as ‘permitted travel’ during the lockdown, we are endeavouring to keep face to face meetings to a minimum, particularly given the virulence of the new variant, which is more easily transmitted.
You can contact us for legal advice as usual via phone, email or by one of the forms on our website. Existing clients can contact their lawyer with any queries about if or how the new restrictions may affect their case.
Our full plan for safe working is detailed below and we ask that all visitors read this page in full and complete the health and safety form before attending our offices.
Silk Family Law offices
The safety of our clients and staff is paramount. Therefore for the duration of the new national lockdown, we will be serving our clients primarily remotely. The Silk Family Law Newcastle and Aske offices will remain open, however, to facilitate remote hearings where it is necessary to be with a client in the same or adjoining rooms and some cases where it is not possible to take instructions/advise remotely. In these cases, the following protocols will be followed:
- Our offices are now operating with essential staff only to minimise risk to both our staff and our clients. Other members of the team will work from home. Our office telephone lines will remain open.
- Clients will be asked to undertake remote meetings unless this isn’t possible, and have the technology in place to facilitate this.
- Where a client meeting or court hearing is to be conducted from the office, this will be booked in advance and all attendees should follow the advice below and complete the Visitor Health & Safety Declaration Form.
We have invested in additional screening, PPE and devised an effective protocol to provide, not only a safe place of work, but also safe systems of working in our offices.
We are following the latest government advice on face coverings. Since 8th August 2020, it has been a legal requirement that members of the public wear face coverings at premises providing professional services, legal or financial services.
All visits to one of our offices should be pre-booked in advance and all visitors are required to complete an assessment form beforehand (link below) to confirm they are safe to attend and will comply with all the relevant COVID19 safety guidance below.
Our offices undergo a rigorous cleaning schedule, and specific guidance for each office will be issued to visitors upon booking an appointment.
Before attending any of our offices, we ask that all visitors please:
- Read and follow the advice below AND
- Complete the following online form:
COVID19 Health & Safety requirements for all office-based meetings
For the safety of all our staff and visitors, all office visitors are required to read and agree to the following before attending an office-based meeting/court hearing:
- Visitor Health & Safety Declaration – Prior to attending, all visitors should complete this online form to ensure we can manage the risk of transmission.
- Social distancing – All meeting attendees should maintain a 2m separation where possible or 1m with face coverings being worn. Each of the large meeting rooms can accommodate up to three people whilst maintaining social distancing, the smaller rooms are limited to two people.
- General COVID19 Health & Safety Information – All visitors should read the information detailed below in full before attending a meeting and will be asked to confirm they have done so in the online declaration.
General COVID19 Health & Safety information
The Courts are still working with electronic files and Silk is has been fully set up for electronic and remote working since the start of lockdown. We are limiting the passing of files and papers where possible, and using personal protection equipment (PPE) where appropriate. We politely ask visitors to do the same.
All our clients will be offered a virtual meeting via Zoom or Microsoft Teams in the first instance, but we are happy to accommodate those who prefer to meet face-to-face.
All staff and visitors are asked to follow guidelines around regularly hand washing. Antibacterial handwash and paper towels are available in all the bathrooms at Aske and Newcastle.
A separate company manages the Leeds office building, so please speak to your Silk contact regarding the procedures for Leeds meetings.
Before your meeting
Prior to each meeting, visitors are required to read the information on this website page in full, and complete the online declaration form.
Prior to your arrival, the meeting room will have been sanitised and we will set a place in the room for each attendee including cold refreshments (bottled water) and a notepad and pen. These are for your use only and Silk staff will bring their own separate stationery. Social distancing rules will apply and where a distance of 2 m cannot be maintained face coverings will be worn.
What to expect when you arrive
At the entrance doors of our Newcastle and Aske offices, there will be a supply of hand sanitiser, antibacterial spray/wipes, gloves and disposable face masks available for visitor use. There will be a sign giving you guidance and inviting you to use the PPE prior to pushing the entrance keypad and entering the offices: please comply fully with these requests.
Staff have their own personal supplies of hand sanitiser, disposable face masks and gloves and will be using them where appropriate.
Upon arrival, please ring the bell; the door will open electronically and you will be asked to take a seat in the waiting area.
There will be a further supply of hand sanitiser in each waiting area and in each meeting room.
You will be met by a member of the Silk Family Law team, who will be wearing a face mask to greet you. If you prefer a hot drink, please let them know and we can arrange that for you. All hot drinks will be made by a staff member who is wearing gloves and a face mask. The team member you are meeting will then accompany you to the meeting room. Guidance will be provided as to your use of the bathroom facilities.
After your meeting
If you use the pen supplied during the meeting, we request that you take it home with you along with any sheets you have used from the notepad. All unused notepad sheets will be taken away and placed in a “holding” box after every meeting. Each pad will not be used again for at least 72 hours.
If you or anyone you have been in contact with tests positive for COVID19 or displays symptoms in the 14 days following your meeting, please notify us IMMEDIATELY so we can take appropriate action to protect anyone who came into contact with you at our offices.
We thank you for your cooperation during this time, which will enable all our staff and visitors to remain safe and well.
Contact us and stay in touch
You can contact us online with any queries, or call us on 01915 000 777 (North East office) or 01748 900 888 (Yorkshire offices).
Please follow our website and social media pages for updates.
Photo credits: Tai’s Captures, Sara Kurfeß and Finn Hackshaw on Unsplash.