Virtual Divorce Hearings in Albany
Colwell Law is currently operating at full capacity, with two different offices: one for the fully vaccinated employees and one for the non-vaccinated employees. If a fully-vaccinated person wants to come into the office, they just need to schedule an appointment as usual.
If a non-vaccinated client or potential new client wants to meet with a vaccinated attorney, then the attorney will go to the non-vaccinated site and wear a mask or, if preferred, can meet virtually. All filings are now done online, so it is no longer required for a person to physically sign it and drop it off at the courthouse.
Meet with us to discuss the possibilities of a virtual divorce hearing in Albany.
Different Kinds of Virtual Meetings
The first thing to do when meeting virtually with a court is to make sure that the technology is working, testing it no less than 48 hours prior, because nothing derails meeting faster than faulty technology. A person should try to get any relevant documents on their computer beforehand, whether by scanning them or taking a picture and sending to an attorney.
There are essentially three different options for an alternative to in-person hearings: split in-person, full virtual, and full telephonic. The split in-persons mean that someone Zooms in from one area of the courthouse and the other person Zooms in from somewhere else.
The full-virtual option will utilize screen-sharing technology so that everyone can see the documents being discussed.
The other option is that the court will call everyone that needs to be on the appearance and it operates like a regular conference call.
What Technology is Required?
Almost any modern computer or laptop can be used for virtual hearings. The individual just needs a Microsoft Team download – no subscription to any service or software. Even a tablet or cell phone can work in most cases, and the sign-in process is simple. The client can also call in if they do not have access to video conferencing.
It is often recommended that attorney and client remain in separate physical spaces, if possible, if just for the sake of propriety, and to make the videoconferencing easier. However, there is not a hard and fast rule stating this.
Virtual Divorce Hearings Involving Children
Just as in non-virtual hearings, children are not present – the attorneys who represent them are. In the event that it is necessary to have a Lincoln hearing (which is where the judge talks to just the child and their advocate), that can be done virtually or in person. Virtual Lincoln hearings are optimal because of the difficulty of wrangling kids to court and because it is easier to mitigate COVID exposure that way. The child advocate appears and speaks with the child in the same way any other lawyer consults with their client.
Children are rarely at a divorce proceeding. In the event that a child does need to be present, the court will usually schedule the hearing so that it does not interfere with school.
Clients should keep all of their documents in front of them during a virtual hearing, and make sure they are the only one in the room visible on camera. They should dress business-like or business-casual from at least the waist-up. Some courts are more lax than others when it comes to dress formality in a virtual setting. It is preferable to testify in an attorney’s office rather than at home, if possible.
In addition to a court stenographer, virtual hearings are also recorded. A half-day hearing for a divorce can last about three hours, while a whole-day hearing can last about six hours at the maximum.
A lawyer must keep their lines of communication open with a client but they should never feel like the relationship is strictly a virtual one. They should still be accessible to their client during a hearing, which might involve email or text messages while the hearing is occurring. Sometimes the court might allow them to exit the virtual appearance on “assignment of recess” in order to talk on a separate private line.
Discuss the Possibility of a Virtual Divorce Hearing with an Albany Attorney
Regardless of any viral outbreaks, virtual hearings may continue to be the way of the future in family law courtrooms. If you are wondering what it is like to have a virtual divorce hearing in Albany, give us a call. We can explain what is required of you and how your case might be affected.