Divorce In Suffolk County During Phase Three

Long Island Courts which include divorce cases entered Phase Three on June 26, 2020. As per official court memos to attorneys, Phase Three will increase in person court appearances on a limited basis. The plan is to expand the categories of proceedings that the courts will handle in person vs. virtually by phone or Skype. There still remains a huge volume of pending cases as well as newly filed cases. Therefore, the expansion to in person court attendance will be on a limited and often staggered basis.

No more than 50% of the courtrooms in a courthouse will be in use at the same time. Every courtroom will only be utilized at 25% of its maximum capacity. There will be masks, face shields (as necessary), social distancing and any other necessary safety precautions for both the judges, support attorneys, clerical staff, court reporters, litigants and attorneys for clients.

Essential matters will be expanded however, non-essential matters will still primarily be handled remotely except where the court determines that an in person appearance is necessary or if the court grants a request for an in person conference.

The goal is to promote safety while returning to the process of adjudicating cases. The process is slow and the steps may seem tedious but this has become the new normal of avoiding large crowded waiting rooms, hallways and courtrooms. For example the hearing rooms in the Family Court for child support and spousal support matters are small and consist of a U shaped table or a rectangular table. Those courtrooms are only operating on a virtual basis due to the space limitations that make social distancing virtually impossible between attorneys and clients. Therefore, the Support Magistrates are concentrating on cases where both sides have attorneys and therefore a Skype conference is easier to schedule and conduct.

This is all a process and fortunately judges, magistrates, attorneys and clients are all trying to work under new guidelines to move matters forward. Only through patience and diligence will these matters be resolved.