As a result of the ongoing pandemic due to the corona virus, on Friday April 17th the Supreme Court of Missouri extended its order prohibiting in-person hearings in Missouri courts, now through May 15th, 2020. However, despite this limitation, most courts have adopted protocols to continue to move forward with their cases. In this blog we discuss the latest on how many local family court judges are treating existing orders requiring the exchange of custody of children in light of statewide and local stay-at-home orders, as well as how local courts continue assisting those in need of protection from domestic violence.
As mentioned in a previously blog, through the use of video conferencing platforms such as Webex and Zoom, family court judges are able to conference with attorneys to handle non-testimonial motions and to hold settlement conferences and pre-trial conferences normally used to discuss the issues of the parties, in an effort to facilitate resolution of issues prior to trial.
St. Charles County Family Court Addresses Custody Orders in Light of the Pandemic.
At the outset of the local and regional stay-at-home orders, family court judges throughout the country, including the State of Missouri, were faced with an influx of motions filed to either enforce existing visitation and custody orders or for restraining orders filed in an effort to block the exchange of children between parents. In order to address the influx of cases, the Family Court in St. Charles County issued a “COVID-19 Memo” to local family law attorneys stressing that visitation and custody schedules should continue despite the stay-at-home orders. Specifically, the Memo directed that “all visitation/custody schedules shall continue as ordered by the Court or as the parties have followed (prior to COVID-19) unless undeniable circumstances have arisen which place a child/children in peril”. These circumstances include a person living at a home who has tested positive for COVID-19; a person living at the home has been tested for COVID-19, and those results are pending; and/or a person living in the home who has been ordered quarantined by St. Charles County or any other county in the State of Missouri. The Memo further stressed that any parent or party desiring to seek a court order to stop a visitation order due to COVID-19 will carry the burden to prove that these circumstances exist before the Court will enter a temporary order suspending custody and visitation exchanges.
Applications for Adult Abuse or Child Orders of Protections in St. Louis County Can Now Be Done Online.
The Family Court of St. Louis County as well as other counties in Missouri are taking steps to insure that, during the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders, those citizens who are most vulnerable and in need the protection offered by our court system can still have access to our legal system. Last week, a local St. Louis television news station (Fox2) covered efforts in the St. Louis County Family Court to temporarily give local citizens access to on-line applications for orders of protection and how testimonial hearings on those matters are being held both through video conference as well as in-person. The report stresses how the family court continues to operate despite the current circumstances, including the necessary restrictions placed on in-person appearances.
With over 40 years of combined experience in the practice of family law, The Bellon Law Group uniquely positioned to help you with your family law needs. Contact the Bellon Law Group today for a free consultation if you are in need of legal assistance with any family law matter.