As the nation gradually reopens, even while the Coronavirus pandemic still rages, Colorado is no exception. Last Sunday, Governor Polis signed an executive order relaxing the state’s stay-at-home order. (For full coverage of the Covid-19 stay-at-home order and up-to-date analysis of judicial orders & openings, see our blog post Colorado Family Law Services During COVID-19)
Domestic Relations Proceedings During Safer At Home
Yesterday, 4th Judicial District Chief Judge William Bain issued Chief Judge Order 20-19, covering Coronavirus-related court operations from next Monday, May 4, through May 31. For the first time since the original closure in March, in-person proceedings for routine family law matters are a possibility.
Previously, only specific emergency proceedings were conducted in person, while routine hearings were either postponed, or conducted via Zoom or telephone. Now, individual judges have discretion to allow litigants and attorneys to show up in person: Per para. 3.C of Judge Bain’s order:
“Domestic Relations Cases. The continued use of technology to conduct hearings by telephone or audio-visual device is strongly recommended. Nevertheless, beginning May 4, 2020, judicial officers shall have the discretion to conduct in-person proceedings, subject to the 10-person limit and social distancing requirements described in Section 2 of this Order. Counsel and unrepresented parties shall contact the clerks for the individual divisions to determine whether their hearing will occur by telephone, video conference, or in person.”
Filing Pleadings At Courthouse
The El Paso County Courthouse is still closed to paper filing of routine pleadings. During Covid-19, only filing of pleadings for “public safety matters” may be done in person (for family law, this includes protective orders, motions to restrict parenting time, and abduction prevention hearings.”) Otherwise, motions or responses must be either mailed in, or you can file electronically – if your case is in one of the participating counties, including El Paso & Teller – no need to be a lawyer!
Wear A Mask to Protect from Coronavirus
Surprisingly, masks or face coverings are not actually mandatory, just encouraged. Per para. 1:
“Members of the public are strongly encouraged to wear masks in the courthouse, and employees are required to wear masks when they are within six feet of anyone else in the courthouse.”
Parenting Schedules & Exchanges Remain In Effect During Coronavirus
As we discussed in our prior blog post on this issue, both Governor Polis and Chief Judge Bain have stated that the Covid-19 stay-at-home order does not affect custody arrangements. Unsurprisingly, that’s still true for “safer at home”. The Chief Judge order reminds us:
“All Parties are advised that all existing court orders, including parenting time and parenting exchange orders, are not suspended by the Stay-at-Home or Safer-at-Home Orders issued by Governor Jared Polis, and shall continue to be followed unless otherwise modified by the court or agreement of the parties.”