Some people think that due to stay at home orders that you cannot get divorced right now.
All of the courts shut down in mid-March but have slowly been reopening and are accepting new filings for civil cases, including family law cases. It is not only possible now to get a case started, but to get a hearing scheduled on immediate orders related to custody, child support, spousal support, or attorney fees.
Our courts have switched to hearings through video conferencing in both Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, which is primarily where I practice. I’ve had several hearings through video conferencing. Judges and attorneys both are getting used to it. It actually helps keep the cost down in many instances because of less travel time for the lawyers.
How long will it take to get Divorced?
Traditional divorce cases will be slower now if you must go to court. Before the Coronavirus, a litigated divorce case on average took between six and 18 months. Now, it might take 1.5 to 2 times as long. The courts will have a backlog of cases that are going to cause a slowdown of the whole process. They are rescheduling many cases because they are so backed up right now.
If you choose an alternative dispute resolution through mediation or collaborative divorce, your case does not need to go to court. We can start addressing issues and having mediation sessions all virtually. It is easier to schedule remote meetings because people do not have to travel. We can start resolving their issues, even without filing divorce.
The bottom line is that getting a divorce is still an option for people right now. You can do almost everything virtually. Judges have already said they feel that aspects of the remote hearings platform will remain in place for a long time. This could streamline the divorce process and make it more affordable for clients in the long run.