In some ways, it feels like it was just yesterday when Covid-19 began spreading and our world was turned upside down. Everyone was struggling to figure out how they would possibly work from home as the pandemic became more prevalent.
In the family law world, we were surrounded by countless uncertainties, especially regarding how courtrooms would be run via Zoom.
Now, as the world opens up and there is a visible light at the end of the tunnel, it seems we are now scrambling to figure out how to transition from our “new normal” back to our “old normal.” With restrictions being lifted, we are thrilled to have Beermann LLP getting back to the “old normal” more each day. It won’t be long until we will be stepping back into the courthouse.
The transition back to the “old normal” may be difficult for some. In family law, we are seeing judges alternating their days between going into the courtroom and holding their court calls remotely. Trials are now being held in person, provided everyone agrees to do so. While this may instill fear for some, everyone is being encouraged to work through this transition time with a positive and future-focused attitude. All of us at Beermann LLP look forward to getting back to seeing our judges, clients, and opposing counsel in person and in the courtroom. While we have adapted and found benefits to interacting online, nothing can replace face-to-face human interaction. Whether it is delivering an argument or cross-examining a witness, the courtroom is the best place to do so. A judge looks at many factors to determine the credibility of witnesses. It is hard to replicate some of those factors on a computer screen.
The courthouses have implemented safety guidelines to ensure the transition is safe and comfortable for all. Those enduring litigation must give one another grace as we head back into the courtroom. The break from being in the courthouse every day by holding routine status calls remotely has helped nearly every court facility determine that was not a good use of attorney time. While we are excited to return to some aspects of our “old normal” in the courtroom, the remote routine status calls will likely stick as the “new normal” in most jurisdictions. It is not only more efficient and safer than crowded courtrooms, but it allows attorneys to appear in multiple courts across the state so we can help represent multiple clients in shorter periods of time. In addition, we are seeing that remote court proceedings are a step towards addressing the issue of providing fair access to justice for all litigants. We have seen just how greatly the remote court proceedings have benefitted the courts, attorneys, and litigants. Hopefully, this will continue to be a key component in keeping our court system open and accessible to all.
As a society, we learned many things from our time in lockdown. The human spirit endured. As we guide clients through the darkness of family law, we will continue to help them navigate their “new normal” by stepping out of their comfort zone in many ways. Ideally, a divorcing couple can craft the terms of their agreement methodically in mediation or any other form of negotiation with or without their attorney’s help.
Many divorces started and ended completely virtually. Some would say it was an opportunity to be “more comfortable” not being physically together. Others believe it was a terrible disservice to families to push through resolution when the world was turned upside down.
Either way, a divorcing couple is better able to honor what they created as a family by being physically present together in either a negotiation or a courtroom during such a life-changing time. Let’s continue to focus on moving forward one family at a time, in whatever way makes the most sense for them.
We are the family law firm that cares.
Beth F. McCormack, Divorce and Family Law Partner
For more information on Ms.McCormack, please visit: www.beermannlaw.com/team/beth-f-mccormack.