Courts operations in New York were initially suspended on March 22, 2020 except for those matters deemed “essential.” This had a significant impact on the commencement of divorce and family law matters, which were mostly on hold except for essential matters such as child protection, family offense/temporary orders of protection, and applications for emergency relief where irreparable harm would be avoided with court intervention. In mid-April, the matrimonial courts in the New York downstate counties began conducting virtual and telephone conferences in pending matters primarily to address custody and visitation issues. At the end of May, new rules from the Chief Administrator of the courts allowed new divorce actions to be filed.
Currently, all counties in New York are allowing electronic filings in new and pending matters. Parties need an attorney to commence new matters to file papers exclusively by electronic filing through the New York State Courts Electronic Filing System (NYSCEF).To the extent electronic filing through NYSCEF is unavailable in a court or case type, represented parties may use the Unified Court System’s Electronic Document Delivery System (EDDS) for certain documents. Those without an attorney cannot use NYSCEF or EDDS to commence an action. With this said, unrepresented parties may go to the courthouse to file documents.
Limited in-person operations have resumed everywhere throughout New York State. New York City judges and court staff returned to the courthouse Wednesday, June 10, 2020. All courts outside New York City have entered Phase 2 of the Governor’s re-opening plan which means they are beginning to hold in-person appearances.
Keep in mind that electronic filing requirements and in-person operations are continually changing as New York State proceeds with its re-opening plan. As such, it is always best to consult with an attorney for assistance with your matter to avoid unnecessary delays in processing your case.
If you have divorce or family law questions, please contact us to discuss how we can help you with these issues.