What Accesses To Court Do New York Divorce Litigants Have During This Pandemic?

The ripple effect of coronavirus has affected everyone. Courts and divorcing individuals are not immune. Many of our clients and friends have inquired of us at Nolletti Law Group about the impact this situation has had or will have on our access to the court system and, more particularly, on their individual divorce case. The information provided below is to keep our clients fully informed. As always, we are happy to discuss any aspect of your case and ask that you do not hesitate to contact us if you so desire. 

The most apparent impact for divorce litigants is that all “non-essential” functions of the courts have been postponed until further notice in an effort to reduce traffic in our courts for the protection of all those normally required to enter the courthouse. Unfortunately this has caused a lengthy delay in the divorce process, including the cancellation of various court appearances and restricted access with respect to applications (motions) for relief ordinarily submitted in a contested divorce proceeding. 

All deadlines that had been established per judicial mandate have been extended for a period of 90 days and all Temporary Orders of Protection that have expired or are due to expire on or after March 19, 2020 “shall be extended under the same terms and conditions until the date the matter is re-calendared, unless the order is sooner terminated or modified by a judge or justice of the court that issued the order.” 

Lastly, effective March 22, 2020 until further order, no papers shall be accepted for filing by a county clerk or a court in any matter of a type not included on the list of “essential matters” that was issued by the Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts on March 22, 2020. This directive applies to both paper and electronic filings. 

Supreme Courts Remain Open for Essential Matters.

Judges and staff in all state courts are performing “essential functions” – court functions that the court has deemed cannot be postponed without serious consequences to the parties involved. 

“Essential matters” for which the Supreme Courts remain open include temporary orders of protection (including but not limited to matters involving domestic violence), emergency applications related to the coronavirus and any other matter that the court deems essential. 

Family Courts remain open for child protection proceedings, juvenile delinquency proceedings, family offenses and emergency support orders, and other matters as the court may allow. 

If you feel that you have an essential matter or one that the court may deem essential, please feel free to contact us at NLG. 

Virtual Court Operations to Commence

Effective Monday, April 6, 2020, virtual court operations commenced via Skype for Business video conferencing for all courts within Westchester, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam and Rockland counties for “essential proceedings.” This allows judges, attorneys (and their clients), as well as some court staff to appear by video conferencing. A minimal court staff will be at the courthouse (including security) to receive papers, answer the phones and conduct other essential court functions. 

We have obtained and reviewed the court-established Virtual Courtroom Protocols that apply to all essential court matters in preparation for the initiation of any such essential proceedings on behalf of our clients. 

Once again, if you feel that you have an essential matter or one that the court may deem essential, please feel free to contact us at 914-831-7000.


James J. Nolletti, Esq.
Founder, Nolletti Law Group
Fellow, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
Fellow, International Academy of Family Lawyers