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COVID -19 and Family Court Matters

Posted on in Family Law

b2ap3_thumbnail_Covid-19-updated_20200320-145152_1.jpgAs we all endure this difficult time of uncertainty and frustration, many questions may come to mind as to the current status of our legal system and its procedures when it comes to pending or new family matters. Hence, we have prepared some basic questions and answers to try and address some of the questions that people may have.

Q.  Are the courts still open and functioning?

           A.    Courthouses in Kane, DuPage, Kendall and DeKalb are still open for EMERGENCY matters only. The courts have issued administrative orders limiting non-essential (non-emergency) matters and rescheduling non-emergency civil matters through April 17, 2020. However, courts have noted that cases may be continued between 30 to 60 days.

 

 Q. What is considered an emergency civil matter?

          A.    Emergency matters are defined as 1) previously scheduled return dates for Temporary Restraining Orders and Orders of Protection; 2) New Petitions for Orders of Protection or Petitions for No Stalking, 3) Emergency motions as defined by Kane County Local Rule. 

 

 Q.  What is considered a non-emergency matter?

           A.    Matters currently scheduled for status, pretrial, prove-up (see exception below), hearing or trial fit into the category of non-EMERGENCY matters.

 

 Q.    What happens with my pending family case?

           A.    If you have a case that is currently set for status, pretrial, prove-up (see exception below), hearing or trial; the Circuit Court Clerk’s will be sending new dates via mail to a party or their counsel setting the matter for a date after April 17, 2020 and setting the matter for further “status” or “setting.”

                 Moreover, the Court is also allowing attorneys to submit “Agreed Orders” to select dates (preferably into May 2020) and to conduct remote telephone and video conferences ON ALL CASES, regardless of the respective stage of the proceedings.

 

 Q.  What if my spouse and I have a complete agreement and we are ready to finalize our divorce?

           A.   For purposes of Kane County only, the Court is allowing “prove-ups” (i.e. your final divorce hearing date) to proceed if the respective Parties have fully executed their proposed settlement documents (Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage, Marital Settlement Agreement, Allocation Judgment and Parenting Plan (if applicable) and copy of the Certificate of Dissolution). These documents must be submitted to the Court for the respective Judge’s review and discretionary entry. 

 

  Q.    What if my matter was previously set for trial?

           A.    It will be continued by the Circuit Court Clerk’s to another date for “status” or “setting” meaning that your trial will be most likely be rescheduled and given a new date on your designated status date.

 

 Q.   Can I still file for divorce, child support or other related matters?

           A.    Yes. The Circuit Court Clerk’s office remains open and can still file family related matters, examples include divorce, petitions to modify child support, petition to modify maintenance or petitions to establish paternity. However, the first available date to have the matter presented before a judge will be sometime after April 17, 2020.

 

 Q.   Do current court orders still remain in effect?

           A.    Yes. Any and all prior orders still remain in effect and must be followed.Examples include orders establishing an obligation to pay maintenance or child support.

Moreover, as to the transport of minor children for purposes of parenting time, per Governor Pritzker's executive order,  paragraph 14 (e), essential travel includes travel required by court order, including to transport children pursuant to a custody agreement.  

 

  Q.  What if I lose my employment and can no longer pay my court ordered obligations?

           A.    Although the courts are not currently allowing Motions to Modify support obligations to proceed as an emergency matter, nonetheless, a party may still file a motion to modify a support obligation and seek relief retroactively to the date of filing.

 

 Q.    Will Serrano Hanson, LLC remain open to help me or answer questions?

           A.    In response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), our firm shall continue to monitor the situation while keeping our client’s health and needs as a first priority. Our office will remain open as an essential business, however, we will be limiting in-person meetings and offering close contact via telephone, email and teleconference. 

Our office remains at your disposal to answer any other questions that you may have during this challenging time.  

 

 

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