One could be forgiven for thinking that the Coronavirus epidemic has halted all legal proceedings. That would be incorrect. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has defined “[w]orkers supporting the operations of the judicial system” as essential. Although most courts have ceased all non-emergency in-person legal proceedings until mid-May, legal services for people needing representation in divorce, child custody, child support and related issues go on.
The State Bar of Texas Office of Court Administration (“OCA”) has provided judges the ability to stream and host court proceedings via Zoom and YouTube teleconferences. Likewise, many law offices are continuing to conduct client meetings, mediations, arbitrations, and scheduled court hearings through those same methods. Courts across Texas are devising methods of presentation of evidence and witness examination all remotely.
Even before the pandemic, most of the daily work needed to accomplish Family Law cases require in-person court hearings only a fraction of the time. Most of the information exchange required to handle such cases is conducted through email, telephone, e-filing, text messages, videoconferences and regular mail.
It is true, however, that the conducting of lengthy and significant evidentiary hearings – those requiring presentation of live testimony through several witnesses, expert witnesses, and/or significant documentary presentation – likely will have to wait until the court system can schedule live and in-person proceedings to genuinely “have their day in court.” Evidentiary hearings of this nature can sometimes be necessary toward the front end of the case, although they are much more likely in contested final trials, which necessarily come at the end of the suit. Most any case needing a final evidentiary trial of this nature would take a period of months between its start and finish, even under ordinary times. Accordingly, there is no present reason to delay the need for legal services in the areas of divorce or child custody.
Of course, the lower the acrimony (or the higher the amicable cooperation) between the parties, the less need there are for hearings of any kind. Divorces or other legal proceedings where the parties agree roughly on the ultimate outcome are particularly well-suited for the present legal environment.
There are procedures in place to deal with cases involving emergent circumstances. The courts are aware that just because our governments have issued shelter-in-place orders, family violence and other dire matters needing immediate attention still occur. Persons encountering these emergency needs for legal services should certainly not be deterred in seeking protection from the courts.
Whether your issue is minor but nonetheless needs to be started or an emergency needing immediate attention, the legal services are available despite the Coronavirus epidemic. The Law Office of David A. Kazen is presently conducting initial consultations, mediations, arbitrations, and court hearings by both telephone and Zoom videoconference. Whether your Family Law matter requires divorce, child custody, child support or any related legal services, The Law Office of David A. Kazen is ready to assist you. For a careful analysis of your Family Law matter via telephone or Zoom videoconference, please call our office and schedule a private consultation with the Law Office of David A. Kazen.