As we continue to work through the Covid-19 outbreak, we got good news from Maricopa County Family Court officials on re-opening court business in a phased-in process that will move from strictly essential emergency services to telephonic services. That means staff will be at work at the regional courthouses, and any family court business that can be managed in a video or teleconference can move forward. For people whose family law cases were stuck in limbo during stay-at-home orders, this allows those cases to progress.
Billie Tarascio explains more below:
Here’s what the court said:
“Commencing May 4, 2020, there will be a transition in court procedures. Much the same as “Break Glass,” the term “Skinny Operations” was coined by Judge Welty. It came about because we were thinning down court operations without suspending them. This may also be referred to as “Modified Operations.” This plan was in effect for about one week in late March until Governor Ducey issued his Executive Stay-At-Home Order. This will likely be the next transitional plan to be implemented as we move back to more complete services.
Under this plan, all court staff may physically return to work at their regularly assigned positions and locations. Superior Court operations at SE, NE and NW will open. However, the public shall be restricted from access to the court facilities except for essential services detailed above.
Under the “Skinny Operations” Plan, any proceedings that can be handled telephonically or through video conferencing shall go forward. For this, the court is presently developing protocols and conducting trainings for use of “Goto Meeting” as the video-conferencing platform.
In addition, many of the calendars for commissioners (such as IV-D hearings and specialty court) shall be repopulated to the extent those proceedings can be conducted telephonically or through video- conferencing. Procedures for Decree of Demand (default hearings) shall also begin again, the protocols for which are now being developed.
Many of the programs through Conciliation Services shall also be conducted. This will likely include Mediations, Open Negotiations and
Conciliation Conferences, to the extent they can be conducted telephonically or through other similar means. There will likely be further delay for Child Interviews and Parenting Conferences. Early Resolution Conferences shall also be conducted telephonically.
As you can see, the biggest change from “Break Glass” to “Skinny Operations” will be the presence of and accessibility to the vast number of court staff and procedures of the family department. This will allow far more proceedings to be conducted while there remain restrictions on access to the court facilities.
The New Normal Operations
Eventually, the court shall open its doors to all who wish to enter. But we do not yet know when that will happen or what that will look like. At a minimum, there shall be every effort made to continue to employ appropriate social distancing, as will be evidenced by markings in each courtroom.”
Check out Billie’s interview with attorney Kylie Bigelow on Facebook to find out how your case may change when you’re presenting a case by phone or by video conference.
Contact us at Modern Law to get your case progressing again.