A Word from Scott Shaw: Are Courts Working with Covid-19 Still Out there?
Is the court system still working for divorce, paternity, legitimation, child support, and contempt cases given that Covid-19 has closed so many things down in the State of Georgia?
The short answer to this question is yes, but they’re also working differently. As an example, you can still get domestic abuse protection order as magistrate judges are sitting at the courthouse to review and work on temporary protective orders (TPOs). But once you get the TPO signed, trying to get a court date to actually hear it there after (to try to prove your innocence) for the party alleged to have committed domestic abuse can be challenging. It may even be unconstitutionally challenging actually.
On the other hand, if it’s necessary to evict a renter, it’s far more difficult to find a magistrate judge to sign the final eviction papers. This is true even if your mortgage is not Federally guaranteed, thus allowing the eviction. We have even seen this issue with unmarried couples living together who have a falling out. The partner who doesn’t own the home or who is not on the lease decides he or she won’t leave. As a tenant at will, they have the right until you evict them. It can be very frustrating.
A Brave New Virtual World
However, when it comes to divorce, custody, child support, legitimation, paternity, and other similar issues, the court systems in most counties are working. But, like everything else, it looks very different. As an example, I’m working two-day trial lasting 16 hours via Zoom later this week. There are benefits to doing a Zoom trial including not having to print out paper since the exhibits are submitted electronically. And everything is neatly ordered on my computer as the trial moves forward.
For the most part, witness direct examination and cross-examination is the same, Third-party witnesses wait their turn in their Zoom “waiting room”. Presenting exhibits can be more challenging if the exhibits require scrolling, but the issues are manageable.
Zoom trials also save money. Attorneys charge for travel time, and with a Zoom hearing, we are not driving there and back, possibly all around the state. A win for the client and a win for the attorney as well since whether I’m being paid or not, I much prefer to not have to drive around the state.
Another thing that has been confirmed is that Zoom trials remove none of the drama or emotion from the trial process. As an example, in a recent Zoom trial I did, my client, a military veteran, actually swelled up in tears as he viewed an exhibit of his son. In person, or over Zoom, the emotion and the impact of the trial is still the same. Zoom trials are an improvement in a lot of ways as far as I am concerned and I hope they continue as an option long after the pandemic has passed. Easy for me to say, since we have been very high tech oriented since our beginnings (the third law firm in the state to have a web site, as an example, back in the mid 1990s), but if you know how to work the technology, the technology if your friend. Zoom is a great addition to the practice of law. Creating efficiencies and losing little of the decorum or process that define our court system.
We Are Here to Work With You
The courts are working, just differently. If you have a family law issue, divorce, child custody, paternity, legitimation, child support, contempt, or modification action, we have been busy and helping our clients even during the current pandemic.
We are Georgia divorce and child custody attorneys. This is all we have done since 1995. We can help. If you need help or have any questions, we would be happy to speak with you via email, text, or phone. Check us out at www.shawlaw.com