How Covid-19 Changed Family Law

COVID-19 changed our lives forever.  It made us realize the importance of hugging family and friends. It pushed many of us to be more technologically proficient so that we could conduct business meetings and family gatherings virtually through video conferencing. Employers learned we could work from home. Many of us became de facto geometry and history teachers for our children who were home from school. Some of us learned that we did not have the patience for teaching.  We missed work colleagues and regular routines.

In the small world of our family court system in Connecticut, COVID-19 also had a profound impact. It closed our courts completely for several months. The court system quickly adapted and created new court forms so that couples with Settlement Agreements could get divorced without an in-person hearing. Attorneys learned how to conduct business virtually. Clients found private spaces to meet with attorneys in their homes where they were confined with their whole family.  Our parenting education classes got moved on-line. During this time, I had several meetings with clients in their cars. We met with clients to sign documents outside at first, and eventually inside with masks with the windows open. It was a rapid and rocky transition but is now working quite smoothly for mediation and collaborative clients.

Our family court system had to change, and some of the changes benefitted families in the mediation process.  We hope that parenting education classes will continue on-line; this makes it more convenient for parents to participate.  We hope that our mediation and collaborative clients will be allowed to continue to waive the final in-person hearing, and just submit documents to the court to approve their Settlement Agreement.  In addition to changes to the court system, video conferencing is now familiar for clients who do not want to travel to our office for meetings.