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COVID-19 Update: Nottage and Ward, LLP Continue to Work

By Nottage and Ward on April 7, 2020

We hope that everyone reading this blog post is in good health and is staying as safe as is currently possible. This pandemic has left all of us in a difficult position. We at Nottage and Ward, LLP will be working from home in an attempt to do our part to flatten the curve. However, that does not mean we have stopped focusing on our cases or our clients.

We work as diligently as ever, even if the circumstances have made things difficult. Our clients mean everything to us, and we would be amiss to abandon you. We are available during our normal business hours to address any questions you may have about your case or other family law related legal issues that may come up.

That being said, we also have several important updates that we would like to share with you.

Cook County Court Update

Most civil court cases in the Cook County Courts have been postponed until May 18, 2020, by order of Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans. It is likely that other courts will soon follow suit, so be sure to be on the lookout for updates from your court system. We know that this will makes things challenging for many of you, but we are dedicated to meeting our clients’ needs even while working remotely.

Parenting Issues

Regular parenting schedules will continue as normal as ordered by Judge Dickler. Monday through Friday will be considered school days, unless they are planned days off that would have happened without the closure of schools. For example, spring break or Memorial Day would not be considered school days under the General Order. Parents are also to act in the best possible interest of their child(ren) and should not be putting them in any unsafe situations. If you are having issues with parenting schedules due to the pandemic, we are available to answer your questions.

Modification of Support

Many people have lost their jobs, are unable to work, or are facing a lowered income due to the current crisis. This can make support payments difficult. However, current support can only be modified if a Petition to Modify Child Support is filed with the Court. If you are worried about your ability to make support, we can help you determine what action, if any, is needed.

Emergency Matters

Judges are available Monday through Friday each week to hear emergency motions. Hearings have been conducted in writing or by video conferencing. In-person hearings are also available if necessary, for issues such as Emergency Orders of Protection.

Non-Emergency Matters

Non-Emergency Motions can still be filed, and you may do so at any time. A General Order has been set given the current circumstances that will streamline the process. Before you would have to appear in court, set a briefing schedule, and then report back for status updates and the eventual hearing, under the new Order the responding party now has 21 days to respond in writing to the Petition or Motion, and the party that filed will then have seven days to reply. The Judge then can rule on these matters during this time period or to schedule a telephone or video hearing. While not all issues can be addressed in this matter, the procedure gives us the ability to ready issues for hearing when the Courts reopen.

New Matters

Despite the current crisis, you can still file new cases for divorce, parentage, custody, and support. The Cook County Clerk’s office is up to date with E-filing, which seems to be running smoothly. Our team is available by phone, Zoom, FaceTime or other methods to meet with both new and existing clients.

Agreed Orders

If parties reach an agreement on any temporary or final issues, agreed court orders can be submitted electronically and entered by the court. This applies to entry of parenting orders, support orders, QDRO’s (Qualified Domestic Relations Orders), or other Orders relevant and agreed to in each case.

Hearings to Finalize a Divorce or Legal Separation

We can conduct prove-up hearings to finalize cases and are currently doing so remotely with all required paperwork submitted and approved by the Court in advance.

Mediation

All of the attorneys at Nottage and Ward, LLP are available to assist clients in mediation which can be conducted via Zoom or other similar methods. In addition, managing partner Leslie Fineberg is a Cook County approved mediator and can mediate your case while courts remain closed. We can also facilitate mediation sessions with retired judges or other trained professionals that offer mediation services.

Even though the courts are closed to almost all issues that aren’t of an emergency nature due to COVID-19, your cases and our work continues. The Chief Judge of the Domestic Relations Division, Judge Grace Dickler, has issued 13 General Orders so far in an effort to help family law attorneys and litigants access the Court system to address issues as they arise. Just because the Courts are physically closed in most instances doesn’t mean that there is no work to be done on our cases. We continue to provide attentive and proactive service to all of our clients

Nottage and Ward, LLP are available through phone, call us at (312) 332-2915, email, or our online contact form. We know these are frightening times, but we are still here to help. Please reach out if you have questions or concerns regarding family law related legal issues.

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