From the Chair of the Family Law Committee

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Barbara Connolly QC

Chair, Family Law Committee



Dear members of the IBA Family Law Committee

As you receive this eBulletin, I hope that you and your families are healthy and well in these truly extraordinary times. Who could have predicted at the annual conference in Seoul last year that, rather than a year filled with all the wonderful things we may have been looking forward to, 2020 would be marked out as the year when the whole world would experience a deadly virus and weeks and months of lockdown due to a global coronavirus pandemic?

Even now as most of us emerge cautiously from lockdown, it is clear that the impact of the pandemic is far from over and huge challenges lie ahead. We now know that tragically many lives have been lost to Covid-19, and others have been dramatically altered in its wake. Economically, the world faces a predicted recession on a massive scale as we face the financial consequences of the shutdown. Health considerations aside, in lockdown many people faced greater challenges than others – economic and social. While many of us have been able to take full advantage of technology as we hone our IT skills keeping in touch, and working from home remotely, others have been less fortunate. Schoolchildren around the world have lost out on education – for many home tuition by zoom is not an option – will they be able to make up for their lost schooling?

What of the social and psychological impact for all of us, but mostly for our children and those with mental health issues? What has been the impact upon relationships during lockdown? Will we see an increase in divorce and family litigation as couples rush to court to bring an end to their relationships? Whilst many families have seen very positive benefits of ‘enforced’ leisure time and family time together in lockdown, history tells us that for many this will have been extremely difficult and together with financial and other worries (including home working and home schooling), may have placed huge additional pressure and tensions on family relationships. And then there is the horrifying worldwide increase in domestic violence which the UN has described as the shadow pandemic. All of these issues provide huge challenges to families and the family justice system around the world.

Sadly, we will not be meeting in Miami in 2020 but in these challenging times there are many ways in which we can keep in touch and we encourage all our committee members to become more involved. Many of you have already contributed to the articles in this eBulletin, or by posting notices on the Covid-19 Forum on the website and attending our webinars. We have more webinars planned but would welcome ideas and contributions from other committee members – so please do get in touch.

With best wishes,

Barbara Connolly QC

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