In response to the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic and social distancing recommendations of public health officials, the Supreme Court of New Jersey has announced several measures applicable to current court operations and litigants. These include postponement/rescheduling of most in-person matters, save for limited emergencies and ongoing trials.
Effective March 18th and until further notice, the state judiciary indicated only emergency matters would be continued in-person at the discretion of judges and judicial officers. As many matters as possible are instead going to be handled via phone or video conference. This includes hearings, case management conferences and motions. Every county is dealing with cases differently, so it is important for you to contact an attorney familiar with the Court system so they can help you determine what is happening in your case. Civil arbitration and matrimonial early settlement panel sessions that were scheduled between March 16th and April 10th were officially postponed and rescheduled as of March 21st. All civil and criminal trials at New Jersey federal courts scheduled for prior to April 30th (including jury selection) are going to be rescheduled too.
Further, out-of-town travel for any witness, attorney, litigant or other member of the public is strongly discouraged.
These and other measures by New Jersey’s Judiciary are in accordance with Governor Phil Murphy’s Executive Order No. 107 requiring all residents to remain at home until further notice.
Exceptions exist for obtaining essential goods and services. Certain services provided by civil courts may be deemed essential, such as some personal protection orders (restraining orders), activities necessary for the well-being of litigants or children, certain child protective proceedings and certain emergency motions.
Violation of the order prohibiting nonapproved social gathering or nonessential business can result in fines and possibly criminal consequences (i.e., disorderly conduct).
The New Jersey Supreme Court also issued an order to suspend or possibly commute county jail sentences – but only for those inmates deemed low-risk – in response to this public health crisis.
Temporary Restraining Orders WILL remain in place and may be obtained through your local police department if the Court is closed.
We Are Available to Answer Your Questions
Our Monmouth County divorce lawyers will be in touch with existing clients about schedule changes and new court dates as we become aware of them.
Participants in divorce cases, child custody matters, child support proceedings or other family law matters can apply for an extension of deadlines and a rescheduling of other matters as required based on the circumstances. Our divorce attorneys can help you with this. Courts will be taking into consideration individuals’ access to video or phone conferencing technology.
Our divorce lawyers will continue to work on expediently resolving matters of immediate concern, as well as work to develop plans for resolution of other non-urgent matters.
Courts are also relaxing New Jersey Rules 5:5-5 and 5.5-6, which pertain to early settlement programs and mandatory arbitration. Early settlement program timeframes are being extended to allow:
- Submissions to be sent directly to early settlement program panelists;
- Proceedings to be conducted in locations other than the courthouse;
- Post-ESP proceedings to go on without requiring a court order to be entered at the same time.
We understand these are uncertain times, and you likely have many concerns weighing on you right now. Call (732) 810-0034 or contact us through our website. We offer free initial consultations and are available to answer your questions and help you navigate this new legal landscape.