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Remote hearings: A possibility for families facing legal issues

The global COVID-19 pandemic has changed how the world works – as well as how families work.

Some divorced parents are sheltering in place together to avoid custody transfers. On the other hand, several studies and news sources report that the number of divorce cases could increase if existing problems are exacerbated by sheltering in place. 

Regardless of the issue, many families are facing unprecedented challenges. For one, how can families resolve issues while staying safe at home?

Court systems transition to online services

Regardless of a pandemic, families will still face conflicts. Some couples may wish to move forward with the process of their divorce. Others might face challenges involving:

  • Adjusting support orders or payments;
  • Modifying their custody agreement; or
  • Resolving parenting time or visitation disputes.

Currently, many families have a similar worry: do they have to wait until courts open again to resolve these issues? The answer in most cases is no.

Although the buildings might be closed, the courts are not. Individuals facing family law challenges should review Virginia’s guidelines that allow them to electronically:

  • File cases;
  • Submit legal documents; and
  • Attend hearings, with two-way video systems.

Families do not have to delay finding the solutions they need or put their safety at risk with these options.

How do you prepare for an online hearing?

Remote online hearings are new territory for everyone – families and courts alike.

However, individuals should still treat remote online hearings as any other hearing they would attend in-person. They should:

  • Log on to the remote hearing early;
  • Take notes and have important information readily available;
  • Dress and act appropriately for a hearing; but also
  • Ensure their internet connection works properly.

Even though remote online hearings allow individuals to resolve family legal issues within the comfort of their own home, they must still prepare themselves and treat the hearing as they would any other.

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