The current COVID-19 pandemic, along with the restrictions that go along with it, has complicated virtually every aspect of our society, including the courts and how we practice family law. Unfortunately, family conflict does not go away during difficult times. On the contrary, issues within the family are likely to be exacerbated due to families being forced to occupy the same space for long periods of time under the shelter-at-home restrictions.
Although most law firms in Kansas City are not physically open to clients or staff, domestic lawyers are continuing to work remotely to assist their clients with ongoing family issues and pending divorce actions. While we are forced to adapt to these difficult times, we are taking advantage of technology to continue to protect and advocate for the best interests of our clients, who may need us now more than ever.
Thanks to technologies such as Zoom, we are able to schedule video conferences with our clients, with opposing counsel, and even with the courts in some situations. While there is no substitute for personal contact and communication, we are fortunate to be able to continue business as usual for the most part.
Access to the courts has been severely limited due to the pandemic, and every court has its own policies and procedures, which are constantly changing as we adapt to these strange times. Many courts remain open for emergency matters, such as orders of protection hearings in cases of domestic violence. Matters not considered urgent are typically being continued, although many courts are doing what they can via phone and video conferencing. Some courts are even continuing to hold full evidentiary hearings via video.
With access to the courts being limited, there is an increased incentive for parties in pending family law actions to settle their cases. Mediation is always a terrific option for parties looking for resolution, and even more so in the present crisis. Most mediators in the Kansas City metro area are still providing mediation via Zoom video conferencing. Zoom allows for mediators to hold virtual caucuses by splitting up parties and their attorneys into breakout “rooms,” allowing for mediators to use all the same tools as used in typical in-person sessions.
Divorce is always a major trigger for anxiety, and to be going through a divorce or other family law action during this pandemic is likely to be a very scary experience. Fortunately, there are still professionals available to counsel you and help through this difficult time. For more information on how we can assist you with your family law matter even during this crisis, please contact one of the experienced family law attorneys at Berkowitz Cook Gondring Driskell & Drobeck.
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