Law firm predicts post-lockdown surge in family enquiries

Tom Quail, from Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP

A LEADING family law solicitor believes lockdown easing will lead to a surge in enquiries from families who have held off on making major life decisions.

Tom Quail from Scottish law firm Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP, believes families will begin to plan more for the future now less restrictions are imposed.

Tom explained: “While we have seen many families making big property decisions during lockdown – such as moving out of big cities as a result of working from home, or relocating to get more outdoor space – many have put relationship and family decisions on pause.

“For example some people who were considering divorce or separation prior to the pandemic may have held off because of financial uncertainty over the last year.  Meanwhile there may also be an increase in couples moving in together over the coming months, after delaying such moves due to the same uncertainty. 

“I think this will be especially prominent later in the year as updates to the law are expected to be made which will give greater rights to cohabiting couples, following the Scottish Law Commission’s review into this area of the law.”

In anticipation of a surge in demand for family law advice the law firm has launched a new microsite to help direct families in need of expert advice.

Children, in particular, will be a key focus according to Tom who predicts a sharp rise in enquiries around relocation of children.

Tom said: “As international travel resumes over the coming months, those who postponed a move abroad can put the wheels in motion again, and we may see more people planning an overseas move after using lockdown as a period for reflection.  So I’m positive there will be a real pent up demand for advice around relocation of children.

“This is a particularly interesting period for cases involving children. There has been a great deal of debate circulating around the Scottish Parliament’s recent update to the Children (Scotland) Act, which will mean a child of any age will be given the opportunity to give their view during child dispute cases, rather than only children of aged 12 and above, which is how the law operates at present. 

“While the UK Government has raised a legal challenge in relation to this update, if this legislation remains, there will be a much greater emphasis on children’s rights and children of all ages will be given more of a voice during legal proceedings going forward.

“As such, it stands to reason that these cases will require more time and a greater amount of work as the child’s view is taken into consideration. While this may be more of a long-term change to family law in Scotland, this is definitely another that will likely spark more demand for advice.”

The family law team at Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP have a combined 45 years of experience and say their new dedicated website will help direct families seeking advice across its five pillars of expertise – divorce and separation, children, pre and post nuptial agreements, cohabitation and adoption.

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