Update on the Connecticut Family Courts
- Are the Connecticut Family Courts Open for In-Person Business? The Connecticut Family Courts remain closed for in-person hearings except for Priority 1 matters which include domestic violence and emergency custody cases.
- Are the Connecticut Family Courts Open for Virtual Hearings? The Connecticut Family Courts are beginning to schedule short hearings using the virtual platform Microsoft Teams where both the attorneys and the parties participate remotely. It is anticipated that while the COVID-19 health restrictions continue, the Courts will begin to schedule longer court appearances to accommodate matters which require evidentiary hearings and multiple witnesses.
- How do the Court Closures Impact my Divorce Case or Post-Judgment Matter? Cases continue to proceed in the following ways through the court system: The Courts are regularly scheduling status conferences, making scheduling orders for both sides to provide financial documentation, appointing guardians ad litems or parenting coordinators, conducting settlement conferences, and making other appropriate orders to move cases forward to resolution. Over the coming months the Courts will be expanding their virtual capabilities to accommodate longer, more complicated matters which require a higher degree of judicial intervention.
- Should I Wait to File for Divorce Until the Courts are Fully Open? Filing a divorce action puts into place the Automatic Orders which protect both parties from financial abuse and prohibit a party from permanently removing his or her child from the State of Connecticut while the divorce action is pending. These important protections are put into place once a divorce action is filed even though the Family Courts are not conducting in person hearings. Moreover, once a divorce action is filed, the case will begin to move forward. Parenting plans will be implemented, financial discovery will be exchanged, and your case will be negotiated. Most cases resolve without any judicial hearings and therefore the fact that the Court is closed for in person hearings should not dissuade you from pursing a divorce action. After the parties have entered into a settlement agreement, the Courts are now permitting a divorce to be finalized without any court appearances at all.
- Should I wait to File a Post-Judgment Modification of my Alimony or Child Support Obligation, or to Increase the Support I receive, Until the Courts are Fully Open? Filing a modification motion now importantly allows the Court to retroactively modify the support order from the date you file. Moreover, like divorce actions, your modification matter can be negotiated and resolved without having to ever appear in Court, or, at the least, discovery can be exchanged and your case prepared for Court once hearings are being scheduled.