During the COVID-19 crisis, access to the courts is limited. Many courts were only hearing divorce and family law matters virtually. The lack of access to the courts caused many distress and concern.
Many had immediate needs they needed to have addressed. It could be a divorce that could not wait. It might have been a child custody case where the parties could not agree to visitation time through consent.
With courts opening back up, many are having their cases heard again. Even then, most courts are suffering from backlogs. These backlogs might mean that some cases will still not move forward for a significant time.
Further, what if there is a second wave? Many are concerned that Coronavirus numbers are spiking in certain locations. The spiking levels could result in some courts not opening back up as quickly. Or, a second wave could result in some courts that were opened back up, eventually shutting back down again.
When access to courts is limited or there is a backlog in a particular jurisdiction, this might be the perfect time for parties to consider collaborative practice.
Through collaborative practice, divorce and family law matters can be resolved outside the court process through collaborative sessions. In these collaborative sessions, parties can attempt to settle their divorce or family law matter without the assistance of a family court judge.
When cases settle outside of court, in most jurisdictions, a divorce or family law matter can be submitted to the family court judge through settlement paperwork that is signed by both parties.
Even when access to courts is limited, or there is a backlog, most family court judges are glad to approve cases where there is a settlement expeditiously. Collaborative practice is a productive way to resolve a divorce or family law matter outside of court.
Even where the parties do not agree, through the use of the collaborative team, many parties can get to a place where they can settle. The collaborative team can consist of collaborative lawyers, a divorce coach, a financial neutral and a child custody professional.