Friday, May 1, 2020

Expect Delays at Court -- What Can You Do?

Courts Shut Down
For at least the next four months, and likely longer, the Family Law courts are going to be backed up everywhere. In Texas, our courts statewide have been shut down since about the middle of March. They may re-open June 1, 2020, but it could be later.

Backlog of Cases
When the courts finally re-open, there will be a rush to the courthouse. By then, there will have been about 2 1/2 months of no court. Most of the issues don't go away. At best, a bandaid is devised with the idea that the issue will be resolved later.

Greater Number of Cases
You should expect a big log jam of cases on June 1. We will have the 2 1/2 months worth of cases, plus new cases starting up. On top of that, we may have a larger volume of cases being filed as the Covid-19 quarantine may have been too much closeness and stress for some marriages to continue.

What Can You Do?
1. You can wait in line to be heard. That could take weeks or a month or two instead of the usual days. If your issue isn't too urgent, waiting won't hurt. If there is urgency, you could have a hard time.

2. You and your attorney can negotiate. In the old days, that's the way a lot of cases were resolved. It may be an attractive choice so you can get some decisions made, but you don't get your day in court to be heard by a judge (if that matters to you).

3. You can try mediation. Although mediation most often occurs closer to the final trial date, there's nothing wrong with using mediation to work out temporary orders, final orders and even other disputes. In Tarrant County, we have a strong group of mediators, including some former judges, who would be available to mediate.

A Final Thought:
Maybe you should consider the Collaborative process. It's not for just the easy or agreeable cases. It's an excellent approach for resolving all divorce issues, including temporary matters.
You can always switch to Collaborative, if you have a trained Collaborative lawyer.  Better yet, start the case in the Collaborative mode.