COVID-19’s Impact on Family Law: How the Pandemic Has Changed How Family Courts Operate‌?

March 1, 2023

The Covid-19 pandemic has flipped our lives upside down, infiltrating every element of society and demanding change in every facet of our lives. Now, as the immunization scheme is rolled out, we are beginning to imagine how life will be in the aftermath of Covid-19 and what the ‘new normal’ is.

COVID-19 has had an impact on practically every aspect of our lives. Our health, society, and economy have all suffered as a result, and families are entering unknown territory.

Regardless of where you are in your family law journey, experienced family law lawyers and  attorneys can assist you in navigating through the difficult times and changes brought on by COVID-19. Life during COVID-19 can be very emotionally and financially difficult for families. The extended period of time that families are sheltered in one place might strain an already delicate balance.

Whether you are in the early stages of separation or divorce procedures, or in a new phase of family law discussions as a result of COVID-19, an experienced family law lawyer’s assistance would be of great help in achieving your desired goal.

Experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic varied greatly among people with special needs and their families, as they did with everyone else. Physical, physiological, emotional, mental health, and behavioral issues, impairments, or disabilities; learning difficulties; and other similar conditions are examples of special needs.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people from all walks of life struggled. Families with special needs faced insurmountable problems, but the general public saw few examples of their pain since the lockdown separated us from one another, and we should note that families with exceptional needs often experience social isolation even in the absence of a pandemic.

How Family Law Practice Has Changed as a Result of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered how family lawyers deal with their clients and practise their profession. Telephonic hearings and the use of Zoom are taking the place of in-person client interactions and courtroom deliberations. The slowdown in courthouses is delaying cases, and attorneys are adjusting to the “new normal.” But today’s stressed-out clients require our services even more, thus family law attorneys must adapt to the situation and flourish.

Covid -19 and Divorce Court

During the COVID-19 pandemic, divorce rates increased in many states. The stress of this circumstance frequently exacerbates pre-existing marital difficulties, especially when shelter-in-place orders oblige a couple to spend significantly more time together than they usually would.

If a couple wishes to divorce, they should be informed that most state and county family courts have considerably decreased their operations. Some courts are only open to handling emergencies, such as domestic violence or child abuse. These hearings could be held using Zoom or other video conferencing systems. Non-emergency proceedings, such as new divorce cases, may be delayed.

However, this does not rule out the possibility of a divorce. If the spouses can strike an agreement that settles all of the divorce concerns, they may not have to appear in court since their divorce will be uncontested.

Even during court closures, judges are often willing to issue a divorce decree based on this type of agreement, while some courts still need at least one in-person attendance in an uncontested divorce. If the spouses are unable to reach an agreement on all matters, they may wish to seek the services of a mediator.

This is a third party that makes no binding decisions. Instead, the mediator facilitates a conversation between the spouses and assists them in reaching an agreement.

Prior to Covid-19, divorces in the US had a standard range of timelines. A typical divorce would take 6 to 12 months from start to conclusion. Of course, some people’s divorces were far faster than those of others, but the majority of people fell somewhere along the bell curve. We have noticed a strange shift from the regular bell curve to a more bi-modal distribution after Covid.

People appear to either be settling down quickly or digging in for an all-out knockdown fight. This is because, as we mentioned in the first part, no one knows when they will get a trial date and it is likely that if they do not settle quickly, their case will drag on for a long period.

COVID-19 Child Custody and Parenting Time

Divorce and child custody laws have not changed as a result of the peculiar circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak. This means that without going to court, a parent cannot unilaterally amend a child custody or parenting time agreement.

If this is not an option in their location owing to court closures, the parents must stick to the timetable in place prior to the outbreak unless they both agree on a different arrangement.

Transferring children between parents puts them in danger of catching the virus, especially if the parents do not live in the same area. Both parents may identify the problem and collaborate to solve it. If the parents get along, they might be able to work out a temporary modified custody agreement.

They may, for example, agree on the child staying with the parent they currently live with and in exchange, more time with the other parent later on in the year.  The parent who lives with the child may also agree to arrange video calls between the child and the other parent. You should modify your arrangement with your ex-spouse or co-parent.

Parents who are hostile to one another, on the other hand, may be unable to reach an agreement. While you may be concerned for your child’s health, you should be aware that breaching a custody order can result in a judgment of contempt of court and other negative consequences.

Even under very extenuating circumstances, judges routinely restrict a parent’s custody or visitation rights if he or she refuses to comply with a parenting time order. Instead of taking this risk, parents should seek the assistance of a mediator who may assist them in negotiating a notarized temporary modification to their parenting plan.

While the modification will not become an enforceable court order until it is reviewed by a judge, a mediator can work with the spouses and possibly their counsel to write binding provisions that will take effect when signed.

If the changes are just temporary, the agreement should express clearly that the original provisions of the parenting plan will be reinstated once the COVID-19 emergency has ended.


While most people are telecommuting, acquiring necessities, and exercising social isolation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact on family law matters can be far-reaching. From court delays to custody battles to financial concerns, parties may be concerned about

how to navigate these unique situations in their divorce, custody, or support proceedings.

Anyone who has dealt with family law issues in court understands how time-consuming the procedure can be. As a result of the present pandemic, this procedure has only gotten longer. Many courts were closed completely for weeks before eventually reopening in stages, beginning with more critical services and gradually expanding. The court docket is very packed as a result of these closures. Trials slated for the spring have been put back, and an avalanche of new cases has overburdened the system.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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