How Will Temporary Court Closures Due to COVID-19 Affect Family Law Cases?
Many clients of our firm are asking this important question: What is the immediate impact on my case if my courthouse is closed for weeks or months, starting right now?
It has been only since last Friday that the various counties in Illinois announced via email and posts on their websites that the courthouses were to be closed for about 30-45 days, while the COVID-19 pandemic works its way through Illinois. Many of our cases were set for important hearings with our judges in March and April, and now these cases will have to be reset. Some will be reset by the courts, and others are being reset by agreement with opposing counsel.
Law Offices of Michael F Roe LLC is still working, managing, innovating. Last Friday afternoon, we completed an important pretrial. This week, discovery is being served, and many pending cases are being negotiated, even though we do not have access to a judge in order to have decisions made over contested issues. Some of our GALs are stepping in, and making recommendations to parties via email and Skype over issues arising now. Some of these issues concern protocols for dealing with child parenting while families are being ordered to stay at home. New case dates are being negotiated and agreed orders created and filed electronically.
For existing as well as new clients, technology is replacing face-to face meetings, and real management of cases is being accomplished.
Here are a few examples:
- Videoconferencing for Divorce and Family Law Cases – For many (if not most) courts, video conferencing is not immediately an option. The same is not true for case consultations, meetings, and mediation, and we have existing technology that will allow negotiations, settlement conferences and mediations to occur. Participants can call into video mediation sessions from their individual devices. Mediation or GAL intervention is not a perfect solution in every case, but if courts are closed and both parties recognize the need for resolution, mediation is uniquely suited to provide solutions even if Covid-19 puts a hold on normal business.
- Domestic Violence, and Child-Related Emergencies – Even if courts are closed, it likely that certain resources will remain available for those facing serious emergencies involving Orders of Protection. Most counties will have a judge or two on duty to hear emergencies.
- Call Us. Just because courts are closed in your area does not mean you are out of legal options. Only today, I held three initial consultations over the phone, and all went well. Much can be done using technology and Law Offices of Michael F Roe LLC is resolute that now, more than ever, cutting edge solutions to the current challenges facing families are needed, and we stand ready to meet all challenges.