With the COVID-19 pandemic, the world as we know it has been turned upside down. Everyone in every industry, from rich to poor, from young to old, has been forced to make changes in his or her daily routine. Those seeking a divorce in the time of COVID are not exempt from these changes.
How Family Law Attorneys Are Handling Divorce Cases During The COVID Crisis?
The COVID-19 crisis and the restrictions imposed by state and federal governments have altered how a divorce action may typically proceed. One of the first adjustments that you may see is how you will interact with your attorney. Prior to the pandemic, one would most likely meet with his or her attorney on one or two occasions to prepare the paperwork for filing the divorce complaint and to prepare a strategy for moving forward. However, more often than not, under the new guidelines, you may find yourself having a video conference or telephone conference at your first meeting with your attorney. You will want to make sure that while you are not meeting face-to-face that you nonetheless take these opportunities to ask all questions you may have and to provide all information to your attorney as you would in a normal face-to-face meeting. The goals and the legal work remain the same, there is just a change in how information is communicated.
Legal Help With Your Divorce During COVID Is The Same But A Bit Different
Keep in mind that the evolving ways that attorneys and clients communicate with one another may not be a bad thing. Twenty years ago, it was not uncommon to have written letter from attorney to attorney or attorney to client being the most common means of communication, with the inherent delay that follows. Presently, you will see email as the more common form of communication and the increase in response time that it has achieved. Likewise, the ability to video conference and share documents remotely over the computer or even one’s phone is making the divorce process more efficient. You may find yourself being able to have a video conference with your attorney during your lunch break at work, rather than having to take time away from your job to travel for a sit-down appointment. The adjustments the law practice has had to make during the COVID-19 crisis have forced everyone to take new steps, but some have been for the better.
What You Can Expect When Filing For Divorce In Rhode Island During COVID
Another difference in the divorce process you may also find, and in Rhode Island in particular, is that the time for getting a divorce may take longer than it has in the past. For a period, many courts were closed or running at a limited court calendar due to COVID-19 closures. This has put a backlog on the court schedule and often your first court date will not be scheduled for several months after you file your initial complaint. One positive that comes from this extended time between filing a complaint and the first court date is that it allows the parties and attorneys ample time to negotiate with one another, which could result in cases being completed at the first court date. Further, many Judges have been flexible and have been expediting divorce hearings to a sooner date if they are told in advance that the matter has settled and as openings occur on the Court calendar.
One of the biggest changes to the divorce process during the COVID-19 outbreak has been the Court appearances themselves. But for contested trials, requests for restraining orders and requests for emergency relief, Court hearings have been held remotely via telephone or video conference and not inside the actual Courthouse. Once you and your spouse have a signed agreement, the same will be submitted to the Court as an exhibit. Prior to your scheduled Court date, your attorney will receive an invitation from the Court with a link to a video hearing. The litigants, their attorneys, the court clerk, the stenographer and the Judge will all appear at the video hearing at the scheduled time. The parties will testify at the remote hearing and the divorce hearing will proceed as if the spouses were on the stand in a Courtroom.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Family Court has also had to adjust how and when divorce matters were heard. Previously there would be a calendar call at 9:00 a.m. where all litigants scheduled for that day would appear at one time and you would sit and wait for your turn to be called. This often resulted in sometimes hours of downtime waiting for other case to proceed before you. However, the Family Court has now implemented a system whereby each case is a assigned a specific time. You may no longer have a 9:00 court date with twenty other cases but will now be scheduled for a set time. You could be heard at 11:30, 2:30, 3;00 or some other time for instance. At that time the Family Court Judge will hear your case and your case alone. No longer will parties have to sit and wait to be heard but will know exactly when they will be heard and can plan their day accordingly. This also helps litigants save on attorney fees and the time travelling to and from the Courthouse. No to be forgotten, no more worries about finding parking!
Do You Need To Speak To A Rhode Island Divorce Attorney?
If you are considering a divorce you need to speak with an experienced Rhode Island divorce attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Warwick office directly at 401.946.3200 to schedule your free consultation. We help divorce clients in Providence, Warwick and all areas of Rhode Island.