Filing for a Divorce in Albany During the COVID-19 Pandemic
When the COVID-19 pandemic shut much of the world down, that meant that many people were unable to engage in court proceedings, including for divorce. While the courts took an altered path in the early days, many are opening back up, but still with certain restrictions. If you are filing for divorce in Albany during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some changes that you should be aware of.
What Are the COVID-19 Restrictions in Albany?
COVID-19 restrictions are often in a state of flux because of the governor’s mandates. Many private businesses allow mask use as discretionary and there are certain public venues that require getting a COVID test or proof of vaccination to enter. As far as the courts go, it is all still mask-mandated.
The courts ask, “Have you been exposed anybody with COVID in the past 10 days? Have you tested positive in the past 14? Have you been outside the country in the past ten? Do you have symptoms?” If a person answers yes to any of those questions, they are subject to being denied entry to court. Regardless, a person will still need to have their mask on.
The only courts that have been operating full time in person has been Saratoga, Albany, and Saratoga Supreme Court. Most others have been operating virtually, unless there is a contentious preliminary conference where the court wants everybody in the same place. Trials have been scheduled for in-person again but it is a court-by-court basis, with Albany being about 50/50.
The only way it will affect a divorce case is in terms of scheduling. Attorneys are fully versed in how to present evidence and conduct research virtually.
Other Elements Being Limited
One aspect that may be permanently altered is the in-person conference, which is easier to schedule virtually than having to get everyone in the same room at the same time. However, there is also a lot of value in having a face-to-face conversation, as well as some of the aspects of litigating. While a lawyer could request a five-minute recess in court in order to quickly grab what they needed, that does not necessarily occur in a virtual format, so all parties need to be extra prepared.
Preparing for Filing a Divorce Under COVID Restrictions
While divorces can be an emotional time, especially if a person wants the other spouse out of their life as soon as possible, they should be prepared for a slower case length. They should anticipate quicker deadlines and less forgiveness with missing deadlines because it is not hard to file them online.
Another thing they should be prepared for is that sometimes attorneys are not going to want to do in-person meetings because of COVID outbreaks or general safety concerns, which means there should be some flexibility.
Filing for a Divorce Case
Parties involved in divorce cases are at the mercy of when the court can fit them onto the calendar. Pre-COVID, the court would schedule a time and attorneys would have to be prepared by that time. Courts are now scheduling as far out as they can because they can fit in more cases by being virtual. It can also be difficult to schedule court dates because some clerks or other employees are out sick or do not want to go back to work in an unsafe environment.
People seeking out a divorce should be empathetic to the fact that the court system has struggled with the pandemic the same way any other industry has, and that sometimes courts are going to be understaffed, overscheduled, and might not have the capacity to answer every need.
Those who are looking to have their case go through the court system should stay on top of their emails and make sure they are ready for any virtual hearing that occurs.
Finding the Right Divorce Lawyer
A person looking to get a divorce should find a lawyer who is well-versed in handling virtual cases. They should look for someone who can get all of their case online as fast as possible, and who can effectively work from places other than their office.
In-person meetings might be limited, so they will have to determine if a lawyer is the right fit for them in other ways. Individuals should read Google reviews, ABLE accounts, and any other secondary compilations of attorneys where they can read personal reviews from prior clients.
Call an Albany Attorney to Get Help Filing for a Divorce During COVID-19
The method of conducting a court hearing might be different, but the process remains the same, even after the peak of the outbreak. Call us to learn more about filing for divorce in Albany during the COVID-19 pandemic.