Amidst all of the uncertainty in the world today, we hear a lot of similar questions about how the pandemic is impacting family law. Here is a brief summary of the state of family law:
- The courts are not closed. The family courts in Alameda County and Contra Costa County are hearing cases, both new and old. Forms can be filed with the court, and most hearings are now virtual via video and phone calls. New cases can be filed and old cases can be completed. It is a little slower than usual, but overall things are moving as fast as can be expected.
- We are conducting initial client meetings and mediations virtually. Some limited in-person meetings, with masks and while social distancing, is possible with sufficient notice. We have large conference rooms that can be used, or a patio where we can meet outdoors if needed. However, we have found that video meetings via Zoom have been just as effective as in-person.
- For those who already have current support orders and/or child custody orders, it is important to remember that those orders are not automatically changed just because of the pandemic. Until you go to court or reach a new written agreement with the other party that is made into a new court order, the old orders remain in place. A loss of a job that would merit a change in child support, for example, requires a new court order. The same applies to custody orders. A parent cannot withhold visitation in violation of a current order without obtaining a new order.
Thank you, and please stay safe.