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Court Procedures under COVID-19 Restrictions

Posted on in Family Law

April 8, 2020

Naperville Family Matter LawyerIn these uncertain times, our firm has had multiple inquiries regarding how COVID-19 is affecting the everyday process of the county court systems. Anderson & Associates, P.C. is primarily focused on Domestic Relations Division or Family Division matters and we are attempting to shine some light on the manner these specific divisions are operating at this time.

Our firm is open and operating at full capacity during this time. The restrictions that have been issued throughout the state will primarily affect cases that are already pending within the court system. Any new filings or cases can still be opened. Anderson & Associates, P.C. is able to assist you in filing a new case, issuing service against an opposing party, drafting and filing motions, issuing discovery and establishing future court dates for when these restrictions have passed. It is important to note that in many instances, the courts will use the date that a motion is filed as the effective date of the request. So if you are in a situation where you are seeking non-emergency relief, it is important to have those petitions filed as soon as possible. Waiting to file simply delays your relief and limits any awards that the Court can issue. Once your case is filed, the major issues are obtaining an actual date before the judge. Most counties are allowing attorneys to schedule video or teleconferences so having an attorney representing you is more important now than ever before.   

Nearly all counties have instituted restrictions forcing the courts to operate in a limited capacity in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19. What this means is that the courthouses are restricting the types of cases being heard in person and the number of people that they are allowing into the courtrooms for those matters. In all counties, the e-filing of pleadings and motions is still being accepted. The issue is that presentment and hearing dates are being extended. At this time, there is not a standard operating procedure for all counties. Instead, each county has developed its own set of restrictions, procedures, and accessibility during this time. 

In Cook County, Chief Justice Timothy C. Evans has issued General Administrative Order No. 2020-01 and later amended that order to be extended through May 18, 2020. This order has essentially closed the Cook County Courthouses to in-person appearances and automatically continued all routine appearances throughout Cook County for 30 days from the originally scheduled date. The Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division, Honorable Grace Dickler, has subsequently issued a series of General Orders for Domestic Relations cases. These general orders have provided attorneys with an avenue to continue progressing cases and resolving issues. Judge Dickler has also provided two courtrooms in the Daley Center for emergency issues if such issues should arise during this restriction period. During this time, Cook County has stressed that the parties should be working on all discovery issues and reaching any agreements that are possible. Cook County has provided attorneys with an avenue to enter agreed orders to make these agreements enforceable. Additionally, should both parties be represented by an attorney, the Court is allowing pretrials, limited hearings, and divorces to be concluded via video conferencing.

In Will County, Chief Judge, Richard C. Schoenstedt, has issued Administrative Order No. 2020-08. This order has restricted the Will County courthouse until April 30, 2020. Will County is still handling emergency matters through in-person hearings or video conferencing if possible. The judge presiding over each matter is granted the authority to determine the manner in which these issues will be heard. Any matter that was scheduled during the restriction period is being rescheduled by the Court and these dates will be provided to the litigants when arranged by the Clerk of the Court. During this time period, all discovery and response deadlines remain in effect. 

In DuPage County, Chief Judge, Daniel P. Guerin, has issued an administrative order which automatically reschedules all non-emergency civil matters through May 15, 2020, for 30-60 days. The Clerk of the Court will be providing updated dates for any case that was rescheduled during this time period. The Domestic Relations Division has issued a limited series of orders that allow for cases with attorneys on both sides to conduct pre-trials, enter agreed orders, and conduct prove-ups to finalize divorce proceedings. During this time period, all discovery and response deadlines remain in effect.

The situation in all three counties and across the state remain fluid and subject to additional changes. The attorneys at Anderson & Associates, P.C. are working hard through this period and are fully prepared to help you navigate through this time period. If you need any legal assistance during this period, please contact your local Anderson & Associates, P.C. office. For the Northside and northern counties please call the Schaumburg office at 847-995-9999. For the Southside of Chicago and Will County please call the Orland Park office at 708-226-9904. For DuPage County, Kane County, and the other collar counties please call the Wheaton office at 630-653-9400.     

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