The Impact of a Peacetime Emergency on Family Court Hearings

Dunlap Law Insights

The Governor declared a peacetime emergency on March 13, 2020, which placed restrictions on public activities because of the Coronavirus. This declaration impacted the Court system. As a result, we are receiving questions from clients in family law about their scheduled court hearings and mediations. There have been two orders in the last week from the Court that impact family law matters in the court system.

On March 16, 2020 in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Court issued an order that temporarily placed court hearings in a particular order from Super High Priority to Normal Priority. The family law cases that were considered super high priority were Orders for Protection, Harassment Restraining Orders, and emergency custody and parenting time motions. All other family court proceedings were basically suspended for 14 days.

On March 20, 2020, the Court issued another order superseding the March 16, 2020 Order restricting the type of family law cases it was able to hear during this pandemic as the courtrooms were only going to be opened on limited basis. Effective March 23, 2020, the Court will only hear emergency change of custody and Order for Protection hearings in a courtroom. The parties and attorneys may appear remotely by telephone or ITV. Some Judges have been requesting the attorneys and parties to file written submissions in lieu of a personal appearance. It should also be noted that Court Administration is only available by telephone and electronic means at this time. Additionally, a number of trials scheduled in April are being rescheduled to a future date.

It is important that individuals are patient, cooperative, and understanding during this time. If there are any questions about access to the Court, please contact your legal counsel.