Going through a separation is painful enough without having to worry about a global health crisis. It’s difficult to know what to do in such uncertain times. But while the coronavirus is cause for concern, it’s important to remember that our legislative system has protocols in place to handle widespread, ongoing emergencies and continue to provide necessary relief.
In response to the public health threat the coronavirus poses, North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley announced two emergency directives on March 13, 2020. You can read the full order here but below is the most relevant information for families dealing with divorce, child custody, child support, or are involved in a juvenile abuse, neglect, or dependency case:
- All superior and district court cases are continued at least 30 days
- There are few exceptions to this rule but judges will hear family court cases requiring emergency relief
- Judges will grant liberal accommodations to attorneys, parties, witnesses, etc. who are at a high risk of severe illness from the COVID-19
- Anyone who’s been exposed to the coronavirus shouldn’t come into any North Carolina courthouse
To comply with the Chief Justice’s order, the Tenth Judicial District issued guidance specific to Wake County. You can read the full response here or download a comprehensive info sheet here. But we’ve put together the most relevant information for you below. Until at least April 17, the following is in effect:
- Domestic (family) court is closed and your case will be continued beyond 30 days
- Juvenile court (Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency court) is closed and your case will be continued beyond 30 days
- Non-secure custody matters should be coordinated with Judge Bousman or Judge Davidian
- Child support enforcement court is closed and your case will be continued beyond 30 days
- Courtroom 5A of the Wake County Courthouse will maintain daily operations to hear:
- Emergency ex parte Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO) cases and 10-day return hearings
- DVPO cases previously assigned to a family court judge
- Requests for emergency relief under N.C.G.S. 50C
- Courtroom 5A does not have to hear DVPOs without an ex parte order, motions to show cause, motions to modify or set aside, or motions for return of weapons—these cases will likely be continued at least 30 days
- Courtroom 5B of the Wake County Courthouse will maintain daily operations to hear:
Lastly, do not come to the courthouse unless you’re required to appear in person. If you have any questions, you can email WakeCourtHotLine@nccourts.org. If you have a court case in another county, please view that county’s guidance online at nccourts.org.
As of the date of publication, the above information is accurate. For the latest updates, go to the NC Court’s COVID-19 updates webpage here.
It’s difficult navigating the judicial system under normal circumstances let alone under the emergency directives currently in place. That’s why it’s important to have a knowledgeable family law attorney on your side who cares for you and your family. If you need legal assistance contact our office. We’re happy to help and can conduct all our meetings online so you don’t have to leave the house to get the legal advice you seek. Text or call to set up your appointment today.