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Are Courts Open and Accessible Right Now

This pandemic we are facing has indeed changed a lot of things that seemed routinary before the virus started. A lot of operations were put on hold to keep people safe. Staying at home and doing things virtually became the status quo. 

Because most establishments are currently not operating, a lot of people wonder if courts are open and accessible during the pandemic. And yes, they are. Court proceedings are still ongoing; most of them are happening virtually. 

In-person hearings are also taking place at a limited capacity. Right now, the priority for in-person hearings are for people in custody who are facing criminal charges, as well as protection orders in divorce, child custody, and parenting time cases. 

Because priority is being given to more urgent cases, the pandemic has caused more clogging in court dockets. So it could take several extera months before cases reach a final decision. However, there are things that people can look into doing instead to speed up the process. 

  1. Arbitration

Arbitration is kind of like getting a rented judge where somebody who has legal experience hears the facts of a case and reaches an ultimate binding decision. These professionals are usually lawyers and retired judges. 

The process involves mediation, presenting facts and evidence, reaching agreements on certain issues, and then the arbitrator making a final decision. 

This will significantly speed up the process, but the trade-off is that it is more expensive because the parties will have to pay for the arbitrator’s time. 

  1. Mediation

Mediation is a good way to use the time before the hearing. In this process, the parties try to resolve issues on their own and come to fair terms and agreements where everyone is happy. In case there are some things that cannot be resolved, those can be addressed later on in court. 

Courts are doing their best to adjust to this new normal and speed up case hearings. But for those in a rush, arbitration and mediation are possible courses to take.

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Associate Attorney - Domestic Relations, Criminal Defense, and Probate


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