Industries across the country have keenly felt the impact of COVID-19, and family law is no exception. From child custody to court operations and beyond, it's hard to think of an area of family law that hasn't changed due to the coronavirus.
Understanding these changes can help attorneys and clients alike navigate their cases more easily. Today, we're taking a look at how COVID-19 has changed family law and what you can expect from the legal industry going forward.
Courts Move Online
One of the most significant ways COVID-19 has impacted family law is by fundamentally changing how courts operate. Most courts aren't hearing family law cases in court (unless it's for an emergency like domestic violence). Instead, courts are using videoconferencing tools like Microsoft Teams to hold remote hearings.
For clients and attorneys alike, the shift to online hearings is something of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it makes attending trial easily accessible to individuals without transportation. On the other, clients or attorneys with shoddy internet (an issue many Americans suffer from) may find remote hearings frustrating.
However, the shift to online platforms does have positive implications for the family law industry overall. It could encourage courts to digitize furthers and make remote hearings even more streamlined. If that happens, court would be much more accessible to your average citizen who can't make time to drive down to the courthouse—and the more accessible our legal system is, the better it is for your average American.
Parents Battle Through Child Custody Disputes
On our blog, we've already discussed how COVID-19 impacts child custody arrangements. From parents losing jobs thanks to an unexpected economic crisis to essential workers figuring out how to handle custody, co-parents today face no shortage of COVID-related challenges.
Again, there is a silver lining here. Many co-parents will come out of the COVID-19 pandemic with more robust, comprehensive co-parenting arrangements than they went in with. However, that doesn't make the plight of parents now any easier to bear.
Domestic Violence Spikes Across the Country
According to the University of Texas at Dallas, incidents of intimate partner violence in Dallas increased by 12.5% when the city's stay-at-home order went into effect. Domestic violence attorneys across the country expect similar increases to happen in cities across the country, which is disturbing considering that in-home violence is already underreported.
Law enforcement agencies across the country will need to brace to handle more domestic violence cases in the coming months.
The Divorce Rate May also Increase
Marriages may be another unexpected casualty of COVID-19. In China, cities experienced record-breaking numbers of divorce filings post-quarantine—and many family law attorneys predict the same thing could happen in the US.
Only time will tell if the divorce rate in America will increase, but if it does, attorneys need to get ready for an exceptionally busy 2021 divorce season.
At the Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller, we help clients resolve a variety of family law-related disputes. To learn more about our team or schedule a consultation, contact us online or via phone at (757) 267-4949.