How Does Coronavirus Affect Family Courts and Divorce?
[Source: ABC 7 News]
Celebrity Divorce Lawyer Christopher C. Melcher Explains how the Coronavirus Affects Family Courts and Divorce Matters on ABC7 News.
Right now it is 6:12 on Thursday and LA County Courts have been closed, so many other courts as well, and when they reopen that could possibly create a backlog. And that of course would be a huge problem for a lot of people, especially when it comes to family courts.
Joining us live now via Skype on ABC News, is celebrity divorce lawyer, Christopher C. Melcher.
We know you’re a top family law attorney and a lot of people have appointments in criminal courts and then in family court. What is going to happen when the courts reopen?
“The court’s reopen tomorrow for 30 days for limited operations. It’s going to be emergency matters only, and these are true emergencies, like restraining orders, custody cases where a child is in grave risk of harm. Those are the only things that they’re going to be able to handle on a family law basis right now for the next 30 days, everything else is going to be postponed. That would include disputes over spousal support or property division and people are just going to have to wait for 30 days for anything other than an absolute emergency from the courts,” explained top family law attorney Christopher C. Melcher.
When you say emergency, you mentioned restraining orders, people can still try to file for those right now. But when it comes to 30 days for the other issues, is it realistic to think that this is going to happen in 30 days or with the Coronavirus possibly being extended, the effect in schools we’re hearing from government officials, could this impact the courts for a lot longer than that?
“It absolutely will. They are just suspended for 30 days. So what’s going to happen is that all of that’s going to be backlogged for months. And even assuming that the court resumes full operations 30 days from now, we’re talking months and months of delays until somebody is going to be able to get into court for a non-emergent matter,” says celebrity divorce lawyer Christopher C. Melcher.
And if the access to the courts is limited, would that benefit certain socioeconomic groups more so than others?
“It absolutely does, in every court case, no matter what it is, there’s always somebody who has something and wants to keep it and the other side has something that they want. The one that has the money, let’s say wins right now, because there’s no court to go to to get that financial relief. So I’m hoping one of the good things that might come out of all this is people will come together and compromise, but we haven’t seen that in the past. But if that doesn’t happen, there will be justice, but it’s going to be delayed,” states Christopher C. Melcher of top family law firm Walzer Melcher LLP.
How coronavirus affects family courts and divorce elicits compromise. There are a lot of parents right now. It’s a stressful time for families in general. Let’s say you’re a part of a split home. Parents who are unable to see their children as part of a custody agreement, divorce is being put on hold, does this at all raise the stakes then when it comes to major issues like potentially domestic violence?
“It does. I think the fact that people are being quarantined or asked to stay in a home together when maybe they didn’t get along that well, is not going to help the relationship. So we may see a lot of tension with those couples, we may see domestic violence occurring, and the courts are staying open for that.
That’s an essential service, they’re are committed to doing that, they will find a way to help people in need for domestic violence restraining orders. So that will continue. Those services will continue. It’s really the financial part and the custody squabbles that people have thought about routinely that are going to have to wait,” explains top family law attorney Christopher C. Melcher.