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The Return of COVID and the Courts

COVID-19 is back!  And the outbreak is once again greatly affecting the country, and most heavily, New York State, New York State Courts and Federal Courts.  The Supreme Courts and the Family Courts in New York State are starting to shut down once again. Our local Supreme Courts and Family Courts have had outbreaks of the COVID-19 virus. In some cases, Courts have had to close and employees/litigants have had to quarantine. For now, the Chief Judge has determined that there will be no further in person court appearances by litigants or attorneys. The Courts have also cut down on their staffing levels to help ease the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The only exception is if the matter were determined an emergency. Therefore, if you intend to file any Petition or commence a proceeding at this time, you will have to electronically file or mail them to the court.  There will be a waiting period for the Petitions or proceedings to be heard. All trials and appearances for the Family Court matters and Supreme Court Divorce proceedings will be conducted virtually. This will mean that you, any witnesses and your attorney will have to appear by the Microsoft Teams App. The court system has done an excellent job conducting virtual appearances. Trials are still going to be difficult because witnesses will need to have the Teams app and exhibits need to be exchanged between the attorneys, witnesses and the court. Depending on the number of exhibits, it could be time-consuming and difficult to get those exhibits circulated to the court, attorneys, as well as witnesses.

We believe we still have ways to go with the Court system, Family Court and virtual appearances. The shutdowns could last into March, April and maybe May. Managing your litigation; getting emergency attention to legal matters and properly presenting your case virtually has many new and uncharted challenges. Be sure to get the advice of experienced counsel who knows your local courts. While this new way of litigating is a work in progress, it promises to be around for a long time, and in the long run, to forever change the face of how cases are filed and litigated. The Attorneys at Tully Rinckey are well versed in this process and the changes evolving daily. We can help you navigate the quickly changing landscape of Divorce and Family Law.

Barbara J. King, Esq. is a partner with Tully Rinckey PLLC, and head of the firm’s Family & Matrimonial Law practice.  She is experienced in representing New Yorkers in proceedings relating to divorce, separation, equitable distribution, annulment, child support, child custody, spousal maintenance and adoption.  Barbara can be reached at (518) 640-1229 or

Michael J. Belsky, Esq. is a partner with Tully Rinckey PLLC.  He provides representation in matters relating to divorce, parental alienation, separation agreements, annulments, child custody, child support, modifications to child support and child custody, enforcement of divorce decrees, spousal maintenance, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, orders of protection and family offenses.  He can be reached at (518) 218-0493 or

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