Although Covid has dramatically affected how the Courts operate day to day divorce cases are still moving forward efficiently. Most matters are proceeding with e-filing of pleadings and motions while appearances are being hosted on Zoom as well as several other internet platforms.
The court buildings are also open to attorneys and litigants specifically involved in a matter on a limited basis. Through a combination of internet and limited physical appearance, matters are
moving through the courts efficiently.
The Early Settlement Program where volunteer lawyers review pending litigation and make recommendations for settlement and well as Mandatary Economic Mediation are also moving forward remotely. For those who chose to hire their own mediators, many mediators are providing in-person as well as remote options.
Emergency Judges are in Court for the filing of Domestic Violence Complaints that have not been filed with the incident in Municipal Court. The Covid shut down has changed how
the courts operate; however, there has been no diminution in services.
Here is a quick review as to how the typical case progresses through the system and what to expect:
Outline of Typical Divorce Proceeding
1. The Complaint is filed electronically by e-filing. The first to file is the Plaintiff.
2. The Complaint is served on the other spouse personally or is acknowledged by the spouse’s
attorney. The second to file is the Defendant.
3. The Defendant who has been served files an Answer and Counterclaim via e-filing and serves it on Plaintiff’s attorney.
4. Paper discovery (questions and document requests) is exchanged by mail or electronically.
5. Testimony of witnesses in pretrial proceedings, known as depositions, are done via Zoom or
other agreed on internet platforms.
6. Interim request for relief to the Court are e-filed and argued virtually.
7. If the matter settles the divorce can be finalized without Court appearance by e-filing required documents.
8. If not settled the matter can proceed to mediation required by the court virtually.
9. If a matter does not settle it can proceed to trial by Zoom or in-person depending on the
complexity of the matter and other factors.
The point is that the Family Courts are open and available to all who need the services of the Court.