Mediation While Courts are Closed Due to Coronavirus
With the courthouses closed and judicial resources earmarked for emergencies, parties engaged in litigation are faced with fewer options, especially if they are seeking the speedy resolution of their claims. A mediator can break the litigation log jam that Covid-19 has caused.
Parties who are involved in a contested divorce or family law case do not give up their litigation case simply because they participate in mediation. If an agreement cannot be reached – or if one or both parties decide the mediation process is not for them – they can always return to litigation. Because mediation is completely confidential, no offer or statements made during the mediation process is admissible in the court case.
Mediation during “paused” litigation can also be helpful for parties seeking to resolve a narrow, temporary issue along the path to a final resolution. For example, parents with a contested child custody case might turn to a mediator to establish a temporary parenting plan, which the parties can follow as they await the re-opening of the courts. In other words, parties in litigation can use mediation to resolve short-term issues within the litigation itself.
Even after Probate Courts re-open their doors, the backlog of cases that have piled up during the shutdown, coupled with the rush of filings that will come as soon as the state’s lock-down relaxes, will prevent litigants from receiving speedy hearings for months. The “new normal” for the remainder of 2020 is likely to include lengthy delays for non-emergency hearings.
Post-pandemic, courts will need to carefully ration the length and frequency of hearings as they dig out of the hole created by Covid-19 with limited resources. Alternative dispute resolution will be a crucial tool for parties to move their matters forward in a timely manner. Whether you are seeking a final resolution of your case, or find yourself dealing with challenging short-term issue, mediation can help now and in the future.
The effective lock-down of the courts in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic does not need to deter couples who have been planning to resolve their divorce through divorce mediation. I offer teleconference and on-line video mediation to quickly and effectively start or continue the divorce process and resolve urgent financial and child-related issues resulting from the coronavirus crisis while the courts are closed.
For more information or to schedule a free, no-obligation, private, confidential consultation visit FalmouthMediation.com or call 508-566-4159.