While there are many factors that affect the outcome of a motion or hearing in a family law case, typically a national health crisis is not one of them. The recent Covid-19 pandemic has significantly altered the course of family law cases in New York City and throughout the nation, however. As such, it is critical for anyone with a family law matter pending in New York City to understand how their case may be affected. If you live in New York and have concerns regarding a family law issue, it is prudent to speak with a New York family law attorney to discuss how recent events may affect your case.
Recent Administrative Orders Relating to New York City Family Courts
On March 7, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order declaring the entire State of New York in a State disaster emergency due to the fact that many people have been diagnosed with Covid-19, and it is anticipated that the numbers will increase. Pursuant to Governor Cuomo’s authority, he temporarily stayed all deadlines in all cases, including family law cases. In other words, the time limitations for when an action, motion, or other proceeding or process must be commenced, filed, or served is tolled from the date of the order until April 19, 2020. As such, no adverse action can be taken against a party in a family law matter, or any other matter, for failing to file a pleading or response during that time.
This does not mean the courts are closed, however. Instead, pursuant to a press release from the Chief Administrative Judge for the New York State Court System, on March 26, 2020, the New York City Family Court began hearing certain matters by telephone or vide appearance, in an effort to contain and mitigate the spread of Covid-19, while still allowing the court to provide necessary emergency relief to the families and children the family court serves. Specifically, hearings regarding child protective intake cases that involve removal applications, emergency family offense petitions, newly filed cases for juvenile delinquency that involve remand applications, and writ applications regarding parenting time or custody, where there is an order in place, may be heard via remote methods.