COVID-19 is back!
And the outbreak is once again having a huge impact on the country, and most importantly, New York State, New York State Courts, and Federal Courts. New York State Supreme Courts and Family Courts are beginning to close again. Our local supreme courts and family courts have had outbreaks of the COVID-19 virus. In some cases, courts had to be closed and employees / litigants had to be quarantined. Currently, the Chief Justice has determined that there will be no further face-to-face hearings from litigants or lawyers.
The courts have also reduced their staff levels to facilitate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The only exception is when the matter has been identified as an emergency. Therefore, if you want to file a petition or initiate proceedings at this point, you must file it electronically or send it to the court. There will be a waiting period before the petitions or proceedings are heard. All court cases and appearances in family matters and divorce proceedings before the Supreme Court are conducted virtually. This means that you, any witnesses, and your attorney must appear in the Microsoft Teams app.
The court system has done an excellent job of running virtual appearances. Trials will still be difficult as witnesses need the team app and exhibits need to be exchanged between attorneys, witnesses and the court. Depending on the number of exhibits, it can be time consuming and difficult to get those exhibits on to the court, lawyers, and witnesses.
We believe we still have ways to deal with the court system, family court and virtual appearances. The shutdowns could last through March, April, and maybe May. Manage your litigation; Getting the immediate attention on legal matters and virtually presenting your case presents many new and unexplored challenges. Be sure to seek advice from an experienced lawyer who knows your local courts. While this new breed of litigation is still in the works, it promises to last a long time and, in the long run, will change the face of filing and litigation forever.
Tully Rinckey’s attorneys are very familiar with this process and the changes that are happening every day. We can help you navigate the rapidly changing landscape of divorce and family law.
Barbara J. King, Esq. is a partner of Tully Rinckey PLLC and head of the law firm Family & Matrimonial Law. She has experience representing New Yorkers in litigation relating to divorce, separation, fair distribution, nullity, child support, custody, spousal support and adoption. Barbara can be reached at (518) 640-1229 or [email protected]
Michael J. Belsky, Esq. is a partner of Tully Rinckey PLLC. He represents in matters of divorce, alienation of the parents, separation agreements, annulments, custody, alimony, changes in alimony and custody of children, enforcement of divorce judgments, alienation of the spouse, agreements before and after the marriage, protection orders and family crimes. He can be reached at (518) 218-0493 or [email protected]