How Courts, Attorneys, and Clients Absorb the COVID-19 Coronavirus Impact on Divorce and Child Custody
Mark leads the discussion by telling us that Scroggins Law Group is open, 100 percent, for current clients and new clients with divorce, child custody, and other family law matters. Mark explains that he invested in his firm’s technology early on, so the Frisco office could communicate efficiently with attorneys and staff at the Dallas office, for example. Incorporating Zoom into the Scroggins Law Group family law practice was an easy transition for everyone in the office. Mark later explains that judge and court personnel, as well as mediators, evaluators, and other necessary persons, are using Zoom. The clients as well are Zooming with everything going on in their cases.
Issues with Extensions to Spring Break and Questions About Possession Schedules
Very quickly, the local county courts and the Texas Supreme Court issued orders letting people know that the extended spring break does not mean that parents who have the kids over spring break can just keep them longer. It is not appropriate to take advantage of a health crisis for personal gain and extra parenting time.
Mark explains that while the courts are not having enforcement hearings over possession conflicts as such at this time, but those could certainly come about at any time or in serious situations.
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What are Essential Hearings and Matters and How are Courts Operating?
CPS cases, criminal cases, and such, are essential matters. Typically under the current situation, the courts are hearing cases involving family violence, protective orders, and temporary restraining orders. These essential hearings are currently being done by Zoom, although some counties like Dallas County are doing things differently Mark explains that procedures are changing quickly.
Hearings and Trials in March and April Are Being Extended to May
Most of the Scroggins Law Group clients’ hearings and trials are being rescheduled while the court otherwise continues conducting hearings on essential matters.
People Downloading and Learning the Basics of Zoom – Mark Says it is Easy
Mark talks about his own time traveling between the Scroggins Law Group offices and county courts and the long term use of technology in communicating with clients, staff, and opposing counsels. Mark talks about a meeting on Zoom the other day including 35 people and everything went just fine.
Did you know that Zoom has a free service as well as the paid version for just under $15 monthly, which allows you to record meetings and hold conference calls longer than 40 minutes?
Yes, You Can Still File for Divorce and Modification Cases During COVID-19 Coronavirus Outbreak
Mark explains that during the COVID-19 Coronavirus shelter in place, and stay at home orders, you certainly can still begin a divorce case or modification, or new custody case. Everything you could do before, you can still do now, it just may require a more virtual process.
Using Private Judges, Mediation and Other Options for Your Divorce and Child Custody Case
Collin county has been encouraging attorneys and their clients to use mediation more frequently, even for temporary orders, which usually happens before the judge. Also in certain cases where time is limited, such as the common 20 minutes per side rule in Collin County, private judging is available. Private judging involves hiring someone to be your private judge in your matter to preside over your hearings, and they can do it using Zoom. Private judges are retired judges, and judges who did not win re-election, for example, who can be hired for private judging. When the case is big enough, or some elements are important enough, private judging may be perfect for you.
Mark talks about the use of Zoom conference rooms for mediations and how the technology makes it so easy for someone to conduct their business as if they were there in person.
What Does Mark Expect When People Get Bored and Sheltered with Family During COVID-19?
Some people are going to find the time to work on their marriage. Some may also find the time to fight because unresolved conflict comes up with families in such close quarters for an extended time. Things can be done and help is out there, even during COVID-19 Coronavirus. Do not wait to call a lawyer, especially if you have a family violence situation, in case someone orders too many margaritas to go from Mi Cocina and problems happen, as Mark gives the example.
People get bored and it is easy to get on people’s nerves. Mark talks about people who are used to going to the gym or are frequent runners, who are ordered to stay at home. Be good to yourself, and be good to the people around you. Things that can be said in anger can damage a lot of relationships. Mark talks about patience during the Coronavirus stay at home orders. Meanwhile, you can find all the different county orders about the COVID-19 Coronavirus Impact on Divorce and Child Custody, and your health and safety, on the Scroggins Law Group website.
You may also listen to the full podcast on our Blog Talk Radio channel. The program title is: How Courts, Attorneys, and Clients Absorb the COVID-19 Coronavirus Impact.
Call Scroggins Law Group for Information About the COVID-19 Coronavirus Impact on Divorce and Child Custody or to Schedule a Consultation, at (214) 469-3100
*Mark L. Scroggins is *board-certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Unless otherwise noted, other attorneys are not *board-certified.
**Super Lawyers (a Thomson Reuters service, awarded to Mark Scroggins 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)
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