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How Coronavirus Has Affected Family Courts and Process

From custody and visitation schedules, to hearings and trials, here's how the courts have been conducted during the Coronavirus pandemic.

We have waited a while to see how the courts would handle divorce and family law cases during the Coronavirus pandemic. Over the past few months, we’ve learned a few things.

  1. Custody Cases or Visitation Schedules
    Judges across the country have signaled that they are not putting this issue on the front burner. In order to catch up with a backlog of cases, many courts are limiting the number of new hearings they are setting unless it’s something really outrageous. Most courts are not treating Coronavirus-related motions on an emergency basis, meaning any new custody motions filed relating to the virus are going to require patience. The bottom line is that the courts are expecting that parents follow custody and visitation orders that are already in place unless the virus makes it impossible to do so.
  2. Hearings and Trials
    Another major impact that we’re seeing on the courts from the pandemic, is an inability to get into court for substantive hearings and especially trials. This is not only related to the backlog in courts but because many courts are still having most of their hearings remotely. As you can imagine, it’s very difficult for a court to conduct a hearing in which the judge needs to take testimony, and it’s especially difficult to have a trial, so many of those motions and cases are still being postponed, many toward the end of 2020 and some even into 2021. So what does that mean for your family law case? It means that you should be absolutely taking advantage of alternative dispute resolution options, like mediation and arbitration.
  3. Remote Hearings and Trials
    Some courts have simple telephone hearings, but if the court is going to go in-depth, and especially take testimony from the parties, they are probably going to do this using videoconferencing. Having yourself and your family law attorney versed on how to use the technology is paramount.  Being prepared so that exhibits are accessible by the court and everyone can see them is a must. If you are not able to execute a remote hearing or trial up to the standard of the judge, it may be continued to a later date.

Get Help From a Family Law Expert

The team at New Mexico Legal Group has handled hundreds of divorce and family law cases during the Coronavirus pandemic and we would be happy to help you too. Start with a free case evaluation, call New Mexico Legal Group at 505.843.7303.