Dear Valued Clients:
I wanted to update all of you on how the Coronavirus pandemic is affecting Payne Family Law and Mediation and potentially your legal matter.
Our office hours. First, know that we are still working, albeit reduced hours given the slowdown and our own personal needs to manage the needs of our families and to adhere to the federal and state guidelines for social distancing. If you call our office or email us, please know that you will receive a return call or email but it may not be until the next business day.
Appointments. We are still scheduling and conducting initial consultations and necessary conversations with clients, but are doing these by telephone. This is for your safety and ours and to encourage you to stay home and stay safe and healthy. If you need to come to the office to make a payment or sign a document, please call first, both to ensure someone is there and to potentially discuss other options for accomplishing this perhaps without requiring an office visit.
Court Dates. Last Friday, March 13, 2020, Chief Justice Beasley of the NC Supreme Court issued an Order that halted business as usual in the NC court system. What that means for us in family law cases is that all cases that are not of an emergency nature (such as domestic violence protective orders, juvenile court custody orders for abuse/ neglect) will be continued for at least 30 days. The court clerks are working and are sending out new court dates. Thus far I have been given a few dates in May and June. Those of you who have matters scheduled for the coming weeks will hear from my office directly when we have more information from our local family court staff about your particular case. If the Courts decide to delay things more than 30 days, we will, of course, update you.
Mediations. If you have a mediation scheduled for the next 30 days, it will either be postponed or conducted electronically if all parties agree. Again, you will hear from me directly if this affects your matter.
What can we be doing?
This is a very stressful time for all of us and I know that is especially hard for those of you going through a separation or raising children on your own. Hang in there and know that this crisis will come to an end, things will eventually get back to normal and you will get to a better place in your life. If we can negotiate out of court settlements during this time, that is always worth trying and even more worthwhile given the delay in the court system. If there are financial documents that need to be gathered to put us in a better position for mediation or court in the coming months, this would be a good time to be doing that. Giving thought to what is most important in our lives, re-setting priorities and being aware of and grateful for the good that is occurring, is always a worthwhile and uplifting thing to do.
My hope is that we all find ways to limit our social interactions and stay home if we can, spend more time with our children and families while we have this rare unscheduled time, support those who may need help or assistance, and show our appreciation for those who continue to work in healthcare, law enforcement, trucking, and delivery services, etc., and find time to get outside and enjoy the beautiful spring weather!
All the best to everyone,
Barri & Windy