Written By: Josh Lowell ~
It is not an understatement to say that COVID changed everything for the family courts. Even before the pandemic, however, technology was becoming omnipresent in the judicial system. With COVID quarantines in place, the courts adapted requiring litigants, attorneys, and court staff to adjust to new systems – like Zoom. Sometimes there are glitches (e.g., unintentionally having a cat filter on during a remote, video court hearing), but the quick pace of positive change has been astounding.
The olden days of handwritten and delivered memos to the court are likely over, and good riddance! Mother earth will thank the legal system for removing the wasteful paper and gas guzzling requirements for good. Without technology the court systems would crash, and nothing would get done. Understanding how the new tech affects your ability to bring a divorce or other family law claim in court is paramount to success. Here are just a few ways technology has invaded the family law systems.
- Email, Email, Email…Letters in the mail and phone calls are so 1997. Email is essentially a necessity to handle a divorce case in Washington. Communication with your attorney by email is quicker, more efficient, and usually more cost effective. Phone calls are still required for more complicated conversations, but what might have taken 10 to 15 minutes by phone can sometimes be dealt with in a single exchange of emails over a few minutes. Practice tip – check your emails! The more often your attorney must email you asking the same questions, the more you will pay your attorney for the same amount of work.
- Zoom Conferences and E-Signatures - In person meetings are still possible even in the age of COVID, and sometimes it is nice to have at least one in person meeting at the outset of a case because it is still easier to make a personal connect when hiring an attorney. After that first meeting, however, meeting with your attorney can often be done remotely without the need to travel saving time for both parties involved. Make sure your Zoom is up to date and tell your attorney in advance if your Internet is not up to par. While perhaps not yet commonplace, e-signing documents is also the wave of the future in many circumstances.
Zoom conferences are also now being used for court hearings and trial as well. Making sure you are available by Zoom or phone call for a court hearing is often required. Understanding Zoom etiquette is especially important for courtroom settings.
- Online Court Filing - Even just a few years ago, most court filings would need to be made in person at the courthouse. King County started e-filing, which changed the game. Now, instead of having to drive or pay a messenger to drive to the court to file a document, in most cases, it can be scanned and filed through the Internet. Even for finalizing a divorce, which almost always required an in-person court hearing, you are now mostly able to finalize your case without ever stepping foot into the courthouse.
Technology Can Get Overwhelming
New electronic and remote systems are amazing, but not understanding how they work can be a major pain. Attorneys and the courts have worked in sync over the last few years to find a great balancing point where convenience is finally integrated into the court systems. If you need help with your divorce, car accident, or any other legal matter, contact the experienced litigators at the law offices of Magnuson Lowell PS. Our team understands technology and will use it to save you time, money, and frustration. Call today for a free case evaluation.