How is COVID-19 Impacting Pending Divorces in Arizona Family Law Courts
Question: I’m confined to my house due to the coronavirus. I still want complete my divorce. Is that possible?
The short answer is yes. However, it requires cooperation from both parties. If they can reach an agreement, the settlement documents can be submitted to the assigned judge who will sign same, thereby completing the divorce process. However, if there are outstanding issues and the parties do not agree, the Family Court is not currently conducting contested hearings and we are therefore (largely) unable to resolve contested issues before a judge. However, there are some alternatives such as arbitrators that remain available to resolve disagreements. This will involve an additional cost to the parties. We remain hopeful that the courts will shortly resume scheduling of trials to decide any disputes which the parties have been unable to resolve.
Question: If the family law court system closes, what would that mean for my pending divorce case?
Although the Arizona Family Court is not currently conducting contested hearings in person, other than on orders of protection and certain emergencies, the judges remain at work to process stipulations, conduct telephonic hearings, and sign various orders. Therefore, we are able to contact judges as needed to assist in processing cases.
At this time, we do not believe that the Court system will ‘close’ beyond the current restrictions, and remain hopeful that all restrictions will shortly be eased - and ultimately removed - with the result that all Court functions will be restored. Unfortunately, we anticipate that the result of the various restrictions on court processes, and the volume of hearings and trials being continued, will be delays in the ultimate resolution of existing cases.
About the Author: Mervyn T. Braude is a family law attorney at the Phoenix law firm of Jaburg Wilk. He is a State Bar of Arizona certified family law specialist. Mervyn can be reached at 602.248.1000.