On March 14, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court of Georgia issued an Order Declaring Statewide Judicial Emergency. This Order has been extended five (5) times, with some modification, by Orders on April 6th, May 11th, June 12th, and July 10th, with the fifth (5th) and most recent Order having been issued on August 11, 2020.
What do you, as a party involved in a divorce or domestic relations matter, need to know about this most recent August 11th Order?
- Jury trials remain suspended until further notice.
- Effective July 14th, all deadlines and other time schedules and filing requirements (with some exception) remain reinstated.
- Deadlines particularly relevant to family law matters, include: Filing Answers; participating in the discovery process; attending mediation; complying with Scheduling Orders, etc.
- For cases pending before March 14, 2020: Litigants will have the same amount of time to file or act after July 14th that they had as of March 14th (i.e. if an Answer was due on March 20th, that Answer would have thus been due as of July 14th).
- For cases filed between March 14th and July 13th: Time for deadlines began running on July 14th (i.e. if a Complaint was filed in June, and the Answer would have been due 30 days later, that 30-day period thus began on July 14th, thereby making the Answer due on August 13th).
- For cases filed on or after July 14th: Litigants are to comply with the normal deadlines applicable to the case.
- However, Courts are instructed to be generous in granting extensions of deadlines, particularly when based upon health concerns, economic hardship, and lack of childcare.
- Courts are instructed to continue to use and to increase the use of technology to conduct remote judicial proceedings as a safer alternative to in-person proceedings (with some exceptions).
- To the extent in-person court proceedings are necessary, they must be conducted in accordance with public health guidance, applicable statutes, court rules, and the requirements of the United States and Georgia Constitutions. Each Court is required to submit its operating guidelines to the Administrative Office of the Courts and to post such guidelines at courthouse entrances and on court and local government websites.
- The mandates of the August 14th Order will continue in place until Thursday, September 10, 2020, at 11:59 p.m.
If you are currently unrepresented, but having questions regarding the above, as it relates to your divorce or other domestic relations matter, please do not hesitate to contact Stephanie Wilson Family Law!