If we can qualify anything that COVID-19 has brought us that is positive, it is certainly innovation. It is not slowing us down, in fact, the legal community is using this time as an opportunity to expand and move itself into the year 2020 with a whole new way to solve legal matters. Many people are left with the thought that with all of the stop signs in place to minimize the spread of the virus, there is no way we can make progress in a divorce proceeding or start a new one, right? Wrong.
The good news is that now you can make progress in your family law matter from the comfort of your own home.
Fifty years ago, a pandemic may have brought divorce proceedings to a screeching halt; but with today’s technology, family law issues can continue to progress in the face of COVID-19. With everything that the virus has seemingly taken away, it has actually pushed many businesses into the new age of technology, a trend that is unlikely to go away once COVID-19 is contained and social distancing is a practice of the past. There are many online platforms that allow attorneys and clients to have face to face meetings to discuss their case, file documents with the court, conduct a mediation, and even attending court remotely. This is the current state of affairs:
Mediation: Technology allows for many people to video conference at once and even break into smaller groups within the meeting to have private conversations. Now each participant can have remote private face to face video conferences with their attorney and then rejoin the larger group. Don’t worry about not knowing how to use it, we can just send you a link to click on to make it simple.
Court: The courts are also utilizing technology by offering litigants the opportunity to attend court via video conference with the judge. In addition to attending court remotely, you can also e-file documents with the court system even while they remain closed. Additionally, the courts have worked out a remote way for attorneys to finalize the divorce during these times. No need to wait, as originally thought. The courts are still striving to determine how to handle contested hearings virtually given the complexity of such situation, however, given their fast and effective response within the last few weeks, it is only a matter of time until a solution is reached.
The court’s response and ability to conduct proceedings, prove-ups, pre-trial conferences, and similar virtual meetings is very impressive. While many aspects of life are currently at a standstill, this is one thing that doesn’t have to be.
If the last few weeks have shown us anything, they have solidified that COVID-19 won’t stop us.
Morgan L. Stogsdill – Divorce and Family Law Partner