Family Law During The COVID-19 Pandemic
The reality of living through the COVID-19 pandemic is different for a variety of businesses and services. It is also creating a change in the culture, and including the ways that consumers are interacting with services and businesses.
One issue that has become more prevalent as the stay-in-place and social distancing and isolation recommendations continue is the strain on family relationships. There is documentation of increased domestic violence in many areas, as well as increased issues with conflict and strife between spouses.
Despite these issues, family lawyers within the Naperville area, as well as across the country, are dealing with some unique challenges to their business. With people in isolation and fearing loss of income and employment, divorce filings are not increasing but are actually decreasing during this time.
Postponing of In-Person Processes
Throughout the country, and in the DuPage County courthouse, jury trials and non-essential functions of the court have been suspended and postponed. This includes in-person appearances, although some locations have opted to complete family law hearings through online platforms such as Zoom.
These online hearings are typically used for emergency measures, including protective orders for domestic violence as well as child protective services cases for removal of children from abusive homes.
While there are options to complete divorce filings online, family lawyers representing clients in contested divorces still face the challenge of providing clients with information on how long the process may take. Additionally, couples may choose to try to ride out the pandemic to avoid having to manage co-parenting and logistic issues of moving out of one location and into another.
Family lawyers can still work with clients through mediation, as many mediators have moved to online mediation services. Meeting platforms allow each person and her or his attorney, as well as the mediator, to meet online from their own home or office.
If these mediations are successful, or if the attorneys can negotiate directly with each other to create a settlement both parties accept, an uncontested divorce can be filed with the court. These uncontested divorces can be processed without a court appearance, which allows them to go through even with the restrictions of the COVID-19 guidelines.
Questions about the safe exchange of children, how to deal with potential exposure to COVID-19 in homes, and even how to manage logistics are often a challenge for both attorneys as well as clients. With the constantly changing information on the disease and the stay-at-home restrictions, it is very challenging for family attorneys to stay abreast of the latest information.
If you have any questions about how our attorneys can help you with your family law matters, to schedule a consultation. You may also contact Keller Legal Services online.