April 24, 2020

Divorce and Family Law During the Pandemic

Governor Pritzker’s executive order in response to Covid-19 has effectively shut down court houses, with certain important exceptions. On March 20, 2020 the governor ordered that all individuals currently living withing the State of Illinois are ordered to stay at home; however, certain individuals are allowed to leave their residences for essential activities. Among those essential activities are government functions and legal services. In other words, courts and lawyers can continue to work, but how we perform our work has changed substantially.

Access to the court house is restricted at least until June 1, 2020 for non-emergency matters. All trials prior to August 3, 2020 have been continued to a date after August 3, 2020. For non-emergency matters, the Judges prefer that the attorneys confer with each other and their clients and submit agreed orders to the presiding Judge by email. Motions and petitions can still be filed and set for hearing. Judges are also willing to conduct “Zoom” meetings or conference calls for pre-trial conferences or certain contested hearings. In other words, for routine matters, Judges do not want people to come to the court house.

If there is an emergency matter, for example an emergency order of protection hearing or a temporary restraining order or an emergency matter related to minor children, then the Judges are willing to have people come to the court house to testify, provided they comply with all social distancing requirements.

Other changes specific to divorce and family law cases include being able to, for the moment:

  • complete only the “online” version of the Kids in a Divorcing Society (KIDS) class without having to do the “in-person” part of the class;
  • streamlining child support orders to apply statutory calculations without extensive financial discovery;
  • handling more aspects of discovery, depositions and communications between litigants outside of the court house

The coronavirus has changed almost everything we do. Sadly, an unintended consequence of Governor Pritzker’s executive order has been to require some unhappy couples to “shelter-in-place” together. At a minimum, this can add stress to already stressful relationships. At worst, this can lead to domestic violence. No one is required to remain in an abusive relationship simply because of the governor’s order.

The bottom line is that you can still litigate your divorce or family law case, even in the midst of Illinois’ “stay at home” order. We here at the law firm of Camic, Johnson, Ltd. are committed to providing you with the same level of outstanding legal services we have been providing for the last 30 years. We just need to be more creative these days in how we provide those services. Contact us to discuss your case today so we can show you how we can help, and as always, we thank you for your trust in our firm.

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