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COVID Update: Connecticut Family Courts are Beginning to Virtually Conduct Hearings on Contested Matters

The Connecticut Family Courts are beginning to virtually hear contested matters which is, hopefully, a major step forward in clearing the backlog of cases in an already overburdened system and lifting the weight of prolonged delay for parties who need relief.

We are particularly proud to announce that McConnell Family Law Group recently participated in the first substantive contested Hearing in the State of Connecticut.   The Hearing included the examination of witnesses and presentation of exhibits.  The Hearing was conducted remotely via Zoom for a total of nine hours over three days.  While there were occasional technical glitches, the Hearing was well presented in a manner that will enable the Judge to make an informed decision for the benefit of the parties and their children.   This case involved a jurisdictional issue regarding whether custody should be decided in Connecticut or New York.  We represented the mother.

Attorneys will disagree about the effectiveness and fairness of “virtual courtrooms.”  We at the McConnell Family Law Group will leave that debate to others.  We will devote the same time, energy, passion, and effort regardless of the methodology of the Court Hearing.  There are benefits for clients in the use of “virtual courtrooms.” There is less time waiting in Courtrooms and Court hallways, which means less stress and less money spent on legal fees, and the prospects of a more expeditious judicial system appear possible. 

To be certain the Judicial Branch has months of backlog to clear, but it appears that hope exists that contested matters will be heard.

What is not new, but is important, is that divorce matters where there is a Settlement Agreement can proceed to Final Judgment “on the papers” without the parties or their attorneys having to appear in Court.  The Courts are continuing to hear emergency custody matters and Applications for Temporary Restraining Orders in person as they have been throughout this pandemic.

This has been an extremely difficult time for many families.  If you are facing divorce, or just thinking about divorce, or if you have a family law issue or question which you need to resolve, please know that the McConnell Family Law Group is prepared to help you achieve – Peace Through Strength.

The following reflects the Judicial Branch announcement as it relates to Family Law matters.  We will keep you informed of any updates.

  • Individuals may apply for Temporary Restraining Orders pursuant to C.G.S. § 46b-15 via e-mail or fax as of April 3, 2020.
  • Individuals may remotely request certified copies of their divorce decrees and Judgments of Dissolution effective June 2, 2020.
  • Remote hearings in Family Matters began being held by videoconference on June 24, 2020.
  • Parties who have non-adversarial divorces or an Agreement of the Parties in most Family Matters may ask that those divorces and Agreements be approved and ordered without having to appear in Court.
  • Parties in Gestational Carrier Agreements may request approval of their Agreements, and the entry of pre-birth orders, without coming to the courthouse for a Hearing.
  • Litigants who have e-filed their Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation case may remotely request a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), which applies to the division of retirement assets.
  • Family Pre-trials and Status Conferences are being conducted remotely.
  • Family relations counselors are also providing conferences remotely.
  • Virtual courtrooms are now being set up to begin conducting limited Hearings in Family Support Magistrate Matters.
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