COVID-19’s Impact on New Jersey Courts
The COVID-19 restrictions set forth by the governor have had a significant impact on the New Jersey court system’s daily operations. If you are considering opening a family matter in court such as filing for divorce, modifying alimony payments, or seeking child custody, the current protocols state that you must do so remotely. These guidelines are constantly changing, and a knowledgeable family attorney could help someone who is undergoing a judicial proceeding in the state remain aware of any new developments. Reach out to learn about COVID-19’s impact on New Jersey Courts.
How Virtual Proceedings Work
The New Jersey family courts are currently operating remotely, and no party is permitted to appear in person. The cases that family court presides over are filed on an electronic system called Judiciary Electronic Document Submission (JEDS), and they may result in telephone meetings and Zoom appearances and trials. Though the courts are faced with several limitations due to the ongoing health crisis, they are still working through cases daily and judges are still issuing orders.
Impact of a Virtual Atmosphere
In virtual cases, the human contact that would typically play a major role in family court may be missing. This new remote format can further isolate the parties of a case and their legal teams, preventing any natural compromise that can occur when both sides are present in the courthouse.
Limitations in the Legal Process
The new COVID-19 protocols have imposed some limits on family law cases because these proceedings are not in person. For example, the judge does not get to observe the natural body language of the litigants as they would in the courtroom. To combat this inconvenience, the Moskowitz Law Group has created a state-of-the-art screen system in their office so that the judge can get a full picture during the virtual proceedings.
Taking away the physical aspect of the court system can also place limitations on urgent family law cases, such as those involving domestic violence allegations. Previously, someone wanting to file a domestic violence claim or request a restraining order would go to the court and speak with a hearing officer right away Now, because this process is electronic, there could be more of a delay depending on availability. The individual may have to wait some time for a call back. Though filing with the police directly could still be an option, the COVID-19 rules have made it slightly less convenient to take this crucial step.
Additionally, whereas previously family lawyers would submit trial binders in the court, all materials now need to be uploaded online in advance of the trial. This new protocol has slowed the legal process slightly, but both the courts and legal counsel are becoming more efficient as time passes. Some counties are more backed up with cases than others, but most of the courts are trying to move the cases along and give relief to litigants as efficiently as possible.
An Attorney Could Help You Navigate the COVID-19 Protocols in the New Jersey Courts
The pandemic has resulted in many restrictions on public life, but the court system has found efficient ways to adapt to this crisis. Pursuing family law matters is still possible in the age of coronavirus, and a skilled lawyer could help you make a virtual legal filing safely and effectively. Call today to speak with a member of our firm and learn more about COVID-19’s impact on the New Jersey courts.