As of right now, with everything going on, most courthouses are closed, with infrequent exceptions to in-person courts. To make sure these family law cases are still moving, courts are now having final hearings via Zoom.
Zoom is a video conferencing software for those who may not be familiar in which parties can virtually communicate via live stream. The court systems have utilized this software to run all their cases and hearings. This is a massive departure from the way it used to be with in-person hearings. So with this change, it creates a much more unique experience in terms of going to court.
Watch our video HERE to learn more about how you can prepare for your final hearing during COVID-19.
Preparations for hearings are very different, with everything being done via Zoom. While you would typically bring your papers to the opposing side before the hearing, the process is now different. I strongly suggest you contact your local judicial circuit and see what specific rules to prepare before the hearing.
Both state and local rules have changed during these unprecedented times. The Florida Supreme Court and the local chief judges of every judicial circuit had to elicit or create separate rules to address everything that's going on. That being said, I strongly suggest you visit the website of the judicial circuit for your case to make sure you understand those rules.
With the implementation of Zoom hearings, essentially, your courtroom is anywhere you set up. This can be a good thing if you are out of state or operating miles away from the courthouse.
With the change of scenery, keep in mind the equipment you use to appear at these Zoom hearings are essential. Zoom does have a mobile phone app that can be used. However, for your final hearing, it is strongly discouraged. The reason why is because when you're doing a final hearing, you may need to present evidence.
Hopefully, you've complied with the local rules and the state rules to produce it, but now you have to present it in the Zoom meeting for the final hearing. In doing this, you have to keep in mind that many devices do not have the screen share feature. This feature is needed when you are describing the item you are presenting. While you may get some leniency, just putting a piece of paper up to the camera, the more appropriate way is to screen share.
Something else to consider is that your environment is also essential. You want to make sure you're not distracted and nothing is happening around you that will be distracting. You want to make sure you reserve that time and sit in a comfortable space.
The most important thing to know about final hearings in family law is that we’re all in this together.
These have been unprecedented times, and just how the situation has hit us as individuals hit the court system and the legal profession. We have all been working together to find the most efficient way to get through this. It should be noted that while you are doing your final hearing and dealing with the stress of it, the courts will be more understanding.
If you, or someone you know, would like more help with this. Feel free to contact our office, and we'll set you up for a consultation.