COVID-19 and the Courts

Rendered image of Coronavirus

Governor Northam issued Amended Executive Order Sixty-Two, which addresses the re-opening of Virginia. Northern Virginia has seen most of the area come to what feels like a stand-still or maybe even a down-slide. The announcement that Virginia is beginning the process of re-opening was tempered by requests from most Northern Virginia cities and counties to remain at Phase 0, and the Governor’s approval of their requests.

Phase 0 restrictions have resulted in very limited access to the courts and weeks-worth of hearings and trials being cancelled. Throughout this crisis, access to the courts for family law issues have been largely limited to protective order proceedings and emergency custody and visitation issues. Mediation services quickly stepped up to offer remote services to help families resolve their cases outside of court. Through these mediation services, families have been able to expedite resolution to their conflicts and find workable solutions for themselves and their families without the expense, stress and delay of litigation.

Mediation has long been an effective alternative dispute resolution process for families and rightfully so. Attorneys and parties, or just the parties, work together with a trained, neutral mediator to develop creative and resourceful solutions. At the conclusion of a successful mediation, the parties have a mediated settlement agreement that they have created themselves. A few of the advantages of mediation are: the process is not hindered by the court’s docket schedule; it is a cost-effective alternative dispute resolution method; and a successful mediation often reduces the likelihood of future litigation.

As courts begin to re-open, the sheer number of cases that have to be rescheduled as a result of COVID-19 cancellations will likely result in court dockets being overburdened and new court dates being scheduled far out in the future. Mediation will continue to be an invaluable option for families facing divorce, custody, visitation or support disputes as we come out of this COVID-19 crisis.

Our attorneys are experienced and skilled negotiators who have helped others successfully resolve family law cases through mediation for over 15 years, and are available to help you do the same.