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How COVID-19 is Affecting Divorces

COVID-19 has turned the world upside down, and the legal system in New York is no exception. Governor Cuomo and the New York State Chief Administrative Judge, Lawrence K. Marks, have issues several Orders pertaining to the laws in New York State and how same is being handled during this unprecedented time. .

Pursuant to those Orders, no new filings of legal actions, including divorces, can be filed at this time. Additionally, if you were served with a Summons and Complaint prior to the issuance of the order the time frame to respond to same is now suspended and tolled. The dates for discovery demands and discovery responses have also been suspended and tolled. However, a new divorce matter can be filed as long as it accompanied by a motion for an essential emergency matters as discussed below.

While the Courts in the state of New York are closed, motions for essential emergency matters are still being heard virtually, via Skype for Business, and in rare necessities in person. In the context of divorces, motions for essential emergency matters consist of temporary orders of protection (including but not limited to matters involving domestic violence), emergency applications related to the coronavirus. extreme risk protection orders (ERPO). If your issue is not one of the enumerated essential emergency matters, it can still be heard by a Judge is the Court deems essential.

As of April 13, 2019, Courts are also beginning to hear non-essential matters virtually as well. That means if you already have a matter pending in Court, you can reach out to the Judge presiding over your matter to schedule a Court conference via Skype for Business or telephone conference. However, in order to obtain a conference you case must warrant immediate court attention. An email can be Judge stating the reason a conference is being requested and the specific issues to be addressed and a description of what recent efforts have been made by the attorneys and/or litigants to address the issues. It will then be up to the Judge to determine whether or not the issue warrants a conference.

Despite the fact that Courts are closed, your divorce matter can still be settled whether you have case pending or not. Palermo Law, P.L.L.C. is open during normal business hours, which is Monday to Friday 9:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M. Right now, we are also available weekends upon request However, due to the fact that the Governor has Ordered that 100% of the employees of all non-essential business have to remain home, we are currently working remotely. All communication shall take place via either telephone call or video conference. Legal documentation, such as Stipulations of Settlement to complete your divorce matter, can even be signed via video Conference as Governor Cuomo has issued an Executive Order allowing notarizations to be performed over video conference so long as certain steps are taken. Please contact our office in Order to speak to one of the attorneys regarding how we can help you with your divorce during this unprecedented time.