Many of us have questions as to how Courts are operating with the ever-changing news during this COVID-19 crisis. We are hearing of news of Court closures and mandatory “Stay-At-Home” Orders every day. So this begs the question- how do we get our issues resolved when there are no judges on the bench? However, we want you to know that there are still many ways to have disputes resolved.
First, this is an excellent opportunity to attempt to reach resolution together and co-parent for what is best for the children, if possible.
If that is not possible, there are several Alternative Dispute Resolution options available. Many people think of mediation as a first option, as a skilled mediator will assist parties to problem solve themselves. Please remember though, a mediator is a neutral third party who cannot provide any legal advice and cannot make any decisions about a dispute.
Second, parties may also turn to arbitration. Arbitration is a process that is very similar to a trial, but done by a private individual. Simply, parties agree to participate in arbitration instead of waiting for a Court to resolve their dispute. The arbitrator will listen to the parties, review the evidence, and issue decisions on the dispute, so long as the parties have voluntarily agreed to enter into arbitration. Luckily parties can resolve all issues related to a dissolution of marriage action within arbitration if they both agree to use that process.
Also, here in Colorado, we have individuals called Parenting Coordinator / Decision-Makers that can help the parties work out their disputes and make specific decisions regarding children if the parties cannot agree, including implementing the parenting plan or resolving disputes about major decisions for the children.
Luckily here in Colorado many lawyers and former judges / magistrates are offering phone and video conferencing services to continue to conduct these forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution amidst this crisis.
Finally, although courts are operating at a very limited capacity and only dealing with true emergencies right now, there are judges on the bench. If your case involves an emergency, you can still get help from the bench.
The Harris Law Firm is working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic and Colorado’s Stay-at-Home Order. Call or contact us online to speak with a lawyer.