With the continuing impact that COVID-19 is having on families and our legal and judicial services, the following are important updates concerning and impacting family law matters.
Video Hearings are Still in Place
The courts are not back to normal yet. Most hearings are done via video conferencing.
Most Family Law Courts are Experiencing a Significant Backlog
It is a fairly safe representation to say the courts are backed up across the board. They are currently trying to attend to cases that were put on hold during the partial court closures and restrictions imposed by dealing with the pandemic. Backlogged cases generally get priority over new cases, which are thus being set out later in time. However, some judges have been more successful than others at finding time to give attention to new matters.
Court’s Reluctant to Take on Emergency Hearings
Due to the backlog, many judges are not willing to take on emergency hearings (in 24 hours), unless they involve threat to human life. The concern of the loss of valuable property, such as a business or the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars or a parent’s need for immediate support orders to be able to feed their children, are often not enough to get some judges’ attention for immediate court intervention.
Private Judges Recommended
Private judges are doing an excellent job of moving cases along and adapting to the times. Private judges are recommended to save time and money, particularly in high asset and complex cases. Both parties must agree to a private judge (so those who benefit from delay will not likely consent), and the initial costs are higher to pay for their retention. But generally, they save a great deal of money and time through much better efficiency.
Lots of Litigation to Adjust for Market Decreases to Estates
We are seeing an increase in litigation to adjust for the sudden decreases in the value of businesses and high asset estates. For instance, some parties feel the time is ripe for divorce in order to buy out the other spouse from a business or assets, because such items are down in value due to market factors.
Lots of Litigation Related to Support Modifications
Similarly, high- and low-income earners are seeking court intervention to decrease spousal and/or child support obligations due to market factors decreasing their income.
Our team is ready and skilled to assist clients in figuring out a new path to accommodate the new situations we are facing.
And last, but not least, for those clients that simply do not have the money or are not looking to spend a chunk of their life savings on divorce, we’ve launched our Green Giraffe Legal Services division. This division offers amicable Flat Fee Divorce, Mediation Services and Unbundled Legal Services, all quoted on a flat fee basis. https://www.greengiraffelegal.com/