Divorces During Lockdown And the Gradual Thaw In Covid-19 Restrictions in the Courts
Covid-19 has caused New York courts to operate in a limited capacity. In the early days of the pandemic, before things settled down, parties went to extreme measures to have courts adjudicate their pressing issues, including divorce.
Going the Extra Mile
Take, for example, the case of a Manhattan couple seeking divorce during this time. To get a supreme court justice to sign the divorce judgment, their lawyer had to go the extra mile.
Due to the limitations of the lockdown, the courts were run by a skeleton crew, so business as usual wasn’t possible. Instead, the lawyer called the judge and asked if he could meet him somewhere in public to sign the divorce judgment. The judge was gracious enough to invite the lawyer to his home. The lawyer drove to the judge’s house, and the divorce settlement was signed there.
Courts have slowly gotten back to business as further precautions are taken, and the coronavirus rampage slows down. However, New York courthouses still have extensive safeguards in place.
Pursuant to an executive order from Governor Cuomo, all court users and court staff are required to wear a mask or face covering inside a courthouse. Anyone without an appropriate face covering is not allowed to enter a courthouse.
Restrictions Based on Travel
You should not enter a courthouse if you:
- Have been in the following countries within the past 14 days: China, South Korea, Japan, Italy, or Iran, or any other country considered by the CDC to have a widespread, sustained spread of the coronavirus;
- Reside or have had close contact with someone who has been in the above countries within the past 14 days;
- Have been directed to quarantine by a physician, hospital, or health agency;
- Have been diagnosed with Covid-19, or have had close contact with someone diagnosed with the virus; or
- Have flu-like symptoms.
If you fall into one of the categories above, and can’t attend a court appearance, call the court or your attorney. You will not be penalized for your absence, provided you or your attorney works with the court to make alternative arrangements.
State of the Court
As the coronavirus pandemic enters its second year, the New York courts are slowly resuming normal business. In her recent “State of the Court” address, Chief Judge DiFiore of the New York Unified Court System expressed optimism. She stated:
“I am pleased to begin today’s message with the news that we are moving forward with our plans to resume some in-person operations, including a limited number of jury trials in our courthouses across the State, and jury summonses are being mailed out in preparation for jury selection to begin statewide [in March 2021].”
Let’s hope it happens.
Let the Pros Handle It
Our local and state courthouses are following all the requirements for conducting business during our current pandemic. If you need legal assistance, reach out to our attorneys today. We understand the latest Covid-19 guidelines in place at courthouses and can proceed with your legal needs in compliance with these guidelines.