The Magna Carta created jury trials, grand juries, and abolished “trial by ordeal” in 1215. A century later, the Black Plague swept all of Europe. Thus “A Jury of Our Peers” has been the hallmark of justice for more than 4 centuries before the founding of these United States. Today, a new worldwide pandemic is challenging our notion of liberty.
A client asked recently whether we were seeing a recession due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Truthfully, many lawyers are busier than ever, though not necessarily with new work. Each court in each different county or circuit has set up specific procedures for handling cases. Some courts, immediately set up video conferencing for hearings; others took a bit more time to explore options. Orange County is in the Ninth Circuit while Seminole County is in the 18th Circuit. Each has a different procedure and both vary in how they handle hearings.
Criminal courts in all areas had largely instituted video conferencing for first appearance years ago, but with a pandemic the larger problem is how to provide safe and secure access for those arrested to meet privately with their attorney. All courts in Florida, the Supreme Court, District Courts of Appeal, Circuit and County Courts have been wrestling with how to assure the safety of the public, how to prevent exposure from those infected, how to protect the rights of those accused of crimes and how to protect the due process to assure fair and just hearings. Jury trials are being scheduled but may not occur until 2021 or later. This places our entire judicial system in peril.
Family attorneys began using Collaborative methods is not always easy, but using a team concept and keeping decisions about your family within your control makes collaboration effective in Central Florida. Using Zoom meetings, for coaches, clients and professionals to work out all the details before even filing can allow a much more controllable process and keep the outcome well within your needs.
Divorcing spouses often have difficulty trusting one another, and unfortunately our courts’ adversarial proceedings in litigation tend to further erode openness and trust by encouraging spouses to fight not only for their own interests but also against the interests of their spouse. When Collaboration occurs, the family’s needs are addressed by professionals and the spouses do not have to “trust” the litigation. They only have to trust the professional who are the guardians of the process. The Collaborative Process works, even in pandemic times and 2020.
Pandemics lead to change. How much change occurs depends on your choices and may be impacted by the choices of those around you. Wash your hands; wear a mask; take care of yourself and others. Peace.
Attorney Aubrey Ducker is a partner at CPLS, P.A., and a member of the Firm’s Family and Elder Law Practice Groups. Contact Attorney Ducker today at email@example.com to discuss any family or marital legal issues you may be experiencing.
We are certainly living in a different time right now. Sheltering in place, social distancing, and wearing masks. And as many areas begin to reopen and relax restrictions, life will start to look much like it did before. One of the places that are not reopening and may not be for a while are the Courts. Since these are places where large gatherings are common, these may be the last to resume operations.
For many, the closure of the courts has had no effect. For others, this has had a huge impact. Those in the middle of a divorce have had their cases put on hold indefinitely. When the courts do reopen at some point, there will be a backlog of cases already the system such as those whose scheduled hearings and trials were canceled as well as those that need to be scheduled. The partial or full resolution of the cases will be delayed indefinitely. Those who have just decided to move ahead with their divorce cannot begin their cases until the courts have opened. When the courts do restart, these cases will be the last to be heard due to the backlog of existing cases when this pandemic began.
For those who are beginning their divorce journey and even the ones that are already in the process, there are alternative paths than using the courts to resolve their case. Mediation with or without attorneys is one option. The spouses can utilize this dispute resolution opportunity whether their divorce has been filed in court or not. There is a significant reduction in cost if attorneys are not used. The most significant benefit of mediation is that the parties and only the parties decide the outcome of their case instead of a judge. Who best to know how to resolve their divorce issues effectively? Another benefit is that the parties decide when to meet and not allow the courts to dictate the speed or lack thereof of their case. The parties also decide when to end their case. Frequently, their case takes significantly less time to come to a resolution than if their case was in court. Many times, their cases can be resolved in one meeting. The swiftness, direction, and outcome of their case are totally in the hands of the parties who use mediation to resolve their divorce.
The time is now to move ahead with your divorce even though the courts may be closed. Mediation is one option to resolve your case. Next week, I will focus on another opportunity to resolve your divorce without using the courts.
As a Certified Family Law Mediator, I have facilitated and worked with many couples toward a successful outcome of their divorce through mediation. Having previous experience as a CPA allows me to provide additional support in developing financial options with them.
If you’d like more information on how to move forward with your divorce or any other family law matter contact Attorney Anthony Diaz today at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss any family or marital legal issues you may be experiencing.
We are certainly coping with interesting times these days that call for different ways of living. This especially holds true for those who are timesharing with the other parent. Co-parenting during or after a divorce can be challenging in itself. Couple that with coping with COVID-19 adds enough stress that can derail even the best of timesharing. What are some ways to co-parent and timeshare during this period and why is it so important?
- Keeping the timesharing the same as much as possible. When outside circumstances get our attention especially ones that stressful, it’s easy to focus on what you’re going through and not as much with your children. Imagine how they must be feeling if we as parents are fearful. Work with the other parent to keep this time as normal as possible especially with your timesharing. Children look for consistency during this time and change will contribute to their focus on the pandemic instead of the certainty of being with each parent. That being said, make sure you follow any guidelines or orders from the Court and your state and local governments as it relates to the pandemic and remaining safe.
- Most children are home and many parents are as well. There are many homeschooling opportunities that are happening while the schools remain closed during this time. It’s important for each parent to make sure that the child’s homeschooling is kept current. It’s common for there to be different parenting styles when it comes to homework. During normal times, this can be a source of friction between the parents and needs to be addressed. As the children are being given assignments either online or other ways instead of being in school, both parents need to work together during their timesharing to make sure these assignments are completed and reviewed.
- As children are at home instead of being in school, there are many opportunities for distraction. It’s easy for children to think they’re on vacation during this time which you can’t blame them right? This is a perfect opportunity for parents to spend time during the week with their children in ways that aren’t possible when school is in session. Block out certain times during the day just for fun. I see many parents walking and riding bicycles with their children. These are priceless moments to form lasting memories with our children. The rituals that are created now can be maintained when school is back in session and become new ways of bonding with your child.
Being in this pandemic is stressful with uncertainty for children and especially while during timesharing with the other parent. We can still create a safe environment for them during this time. Working together with the other parent to keep timesharing and co-parenting the same as much as possible will allow our children to move through this time easier and will less stress. Isn’t that what we want for them and us as well? Stay safe and healthy.