We continue to speak with prospective clients daily and have gotten this question frequently. Whether you are in the midst of a Probate and Family Court case, thinking about filing a new case, or think your spouse or the other parent is on the verge of filing to start a case, things are going to slow down dramatically until at least May 1st, if not longer. That doesn't mean the legal world stops, though.
Even though there are going to be limited hearings for the foreseeable future, there is quite a bit of work that happens outside of the courthouse. You can think of the work of an attorney (at least in family law, but many other areas also) as similar to an iceberg. Even though you only see a tiny bit, there is much more below the surface. For lawyers, you may see them in court for a 10-minurte hearing, but there are often many hours of preparation, document review, analysis, planning and writing that lead up to that brief window of time before a judge.
Even though hearings may be delayed or limited right now, a lot of work can be done to prepare in advance of the courts re-opening and getting back to normal. If you are considering hiring an attorney and wait until there is an announcement that the courts are back to normal, I expect there will be a surge of people doing the same thing. Also, it will probably be hard to get in touch with attorneys once the re-opening of courts is announced. Attorneys as a group are notoriously bad at responding to interested potential clients (not us though!). If you combine that with the madness that will certainly happen once hearings can be scheduled again, I would expect that issue to be even worse. The best thing you can do is start working with an attorney now who will be able to help you navigate the current chaos and ensure your hearing is scheduled or re-scheduled as soon as practical.
Some attorneys require clients to come into their office for a meeting in order to sign a retainer agreement (we do that electronically!), so that is something to consider if you don't want to or aren't permitted to leave the house. That might delay how quickly your attorney could work on your case.
In summary, don't assume this is a six-week vacation for your court case. Be proactive, the earlier you are able to select and begin working with an attorney, the better.
We are always happy to speak with potential clients and discuss how we can assist with your case. If you would like to schedule a free phone consultation, you can call our office at (508) 986-9966 (choose option 2).
Be safe, wash your hands, and be nice to people.