The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on many areas of law, including family law. From changes in court procedures to an increase in virtual hearings, the pandemic has brought about a number of changes to the way family law cases are handled. In this article, we will explore some of the key ways that family law has changed since COVID-19.
Virtual Hearings and Mediation
One of the most significant changes to family law since COVID-19 has been the shift to virtual hearings and mediation. In-person court appearances and mediation sessions have been replaced with online video conferencing platforms such as Zoom or Skype. This has allowed for the continuation of legal proceedings while maintaining social distancing and reducing the risk of exposure to the virus.
Remote hearings and mediation sessions have also allowed for greater flexibility in scheduling, which can be particularly helpful for families who are juggling work and childcare responsibilities while also navigating a family law dispute.
Increased Focus on Child Custody and Support
The pandemic has also brought about an increased focus on child custody and support issues. With the closure of schools and daycares, many parents have found themselves in a challenging situation when it comes to balancing work and childcare responsibilities. This has led to an increase in requests for modifications to child custody and support orders.
In response to these challenges, many courts have been issuing temporary orders that take into account the unique circumstances of the pandemic. For example, some courts have temporarily modified child custody arrangements to allow for more flexibility in parenting time, while others have adjusted child support orders to reflect changes in income due to job loss or furloughs.
Delays in Court Proceedings
Despite the shift to virtual hearings, the pandemic has also caused delays in family law proceedings. Court closures and restrictions on in-person hearings have led to a backlog of cases, which has resulted in longer wait times for hearings and trials.
This has been particularly challenging for families who are facing urgent issues such as domestic violence or child abuse. Some courts have responded to these concerns by prioritizing emergency hearings and providing additional resources and support for families in crisis.
New Considerations in Divorce and Separation
Finally, the pandemic has brought about new considerations in divorce and separation cases. With the economic impact of the pandemic, many couples have found themselves facing financial challenges that can complicate the process of dividing assets and determining spousal support.
Additionally, the pandemic has brought about new considerations when it comes to child custody and visitation. For example, if one parent is a healthcare worker or essential employee, this may impact their ability to provide care for their child during the pandemic.
In response to these challenges, some courts have been more lenient when it comes to modifying divorce and separation agreements to reflect changes in financial or childcare circumstances.
In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on family law. From the shift to virtual hearings to new considerations in child custody and support, the pandemic has brought about a number of changes to the way family law cases are handled. As the pandemic continues, it is likely that we will see additional changes and adaptations to the legal system in order to better serve families during these challenging times.