Throughout the health crisis, North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has continued providing guidance regarding court operations. You can find and read the full orders currently in place 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:
- Anyone who does not have business at the courthouse should not enter a North Carolina courthouse. Likewise, anyone who’s likely been exposed to the coronavirus should not enter a North Carolina courthouse.
- Judges and court officials must ensure members of the public do not stand or sit in close proximity or for extended periods of time.
- Judges and other judicial officials are encouraged to use remote technology and may conduct remote hearings without the consent of the parties. However, a party may object to a remote hearing based on good cause.
- Jury trials are not allowed at this time.
- If a notary is normally required, you may sign an affirmation under penalty of perjury instead.
- You may serve pleadings on a party via email if the other party consents to receive service via email.
To comply with the Chief Justice’s order, the Tenth Judicial District has issued guidance specific to Wake County. You can read the full guidelines here. But we’ve put together the most relevant information for you below. Currently, the following is in effect:
Domestic (family) court is open.
- The normal family court calendaring system is in effect. You can view the online calendar here.
- Calendar calls will be held remotely.
- Temporary matters (i.e., temporary child support, temporary custody, post-separation support, and interim distribution) and motions that do not require testimony may be heard remotely. Permanent matters (i.e. permanent custody, permanent child support, alimony, equitable distribution, show cause motions, and domestic violence protective order (DVPO) hearings) must be heard in person.
- All custody mediation and orientation sessions will be held remotely.
- Summary judgment divorces will be held remotely. If an in-person divorce trial is necessary, it will be calendared in Courtroom 5B.
Juvenile court is open.
- All child planning conferences will be held remotely until further notice.
- Calendar call will be held every Thursday at 1:00 p.m. to discuss the next week’s calendar.
- At the judges’ discretion, pre-trial conferences may be held remotely
- Any hearing held remotely that North Carolina law requires be recorded shall be recorded.
- A respondent parent may appear remotely via telephone.
Domestic violence court is open.
- You may file a complaint or motion in Room 527 of the Wake County Courthouse between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday – Friday.
- If you request Ex Parte relief, you must file your pleading by 4:00 p.m. for a same-day hearing.
- Make sure to contact InterAct for assistance with setting up a remote hearing if you request Ex Parte
- Normally, Ex Parte orders require the court to set a return hearing within 10 days. However, if the calendar has too many cases to follow safe social distancing guidelines, the court may determine good cause exists to set the case for hearing in 11 – 15 days.
Child support enforcement court is open.
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 of this article, 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, please 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 need. Text or call to set up your appointment today.