The Effects of COVID-19 on Family Law

The Kentucky Court System is working to adapt to the social distancing mandated by our local and national government. Our courts understand that they must make changes to ensure that legal needs are met and due process rights protected during this unprecedented global pandemic.

On March 12, 2020, the Supreme Court of Kentucky issued an order suspending regular court practice between March 16, 2020 and April 10, 2020. Since that time, the order has been amended to provide further clarification. In summary, emergency hearings in dependency, abuse and neglect actions and in domestic violence actions are the only hearings allowed to occur at this point in Family Courts.

This is an unprecedented step and we are in uncharted waters. Fortunately, advances in technology make working remotely not only feasible but incredibly easy and productive. These technologies have allowed the Jefferson family court bar, with the aid of our Judges, to accommodate the order of the Supreme Court and the mandates of our Governor. Attorneys are converting in-person mediations to telephonic or video mediations when possible. Attorneys are also continuing to meet with clients via telephone and video conference.

The Bar is also brainstorming new ways to seek court intervention in non-emergency cases in order to make sure that client’s needs are continuing to be met. As we await more guidance from the Courts, we are still able to move forward on a number of matters where timing is of utmost importance. For example, if an individual has lost their employment due to the COVID-19 crisis, or other reason, moving forward immediately to file a motion to reduce their child support obligation is very important. While the Court may not be able to rule on the motion for a reduction immediately, the issue is preserved as of the date of the filing of the motion. This means that there is a high likelihood that the Court will make any granted reduction retroactive to the date the motion was filed.

Divorce and Custody actions can also still be initiated in this time, as all initial necessary steps can be taken electronically. This will enable parties to obtain service, start the clock on separation periods, have meaningful discussion, and even resolve cases and issues.

The Courts remain open for domestic violence hearings. The Domestic Violence Intake Center is open and accessible to anyone wishing to initiate a domestic violence action. The intake center is open 24 hours a day and is located in the Hall of Justice. They can be reached at 502-595-4697.

Emergency dependency, abuse and neglect actions will be heard on specially scheduled dockets. These dockets are only for temporary removal hearings which are used to determine whether removal of children by CPS may continue.

Our attorneys are committed to continuing to offer zealous legal services during this time of crisis. We understand that the pandemic, in and of itself is stressful. It is our goal to help ease the stress of any family court issues you may be dealing with during this time.

About Courtney Preston Kellner

Courtney Preston Kellner is a partner at Kellner Green, PLLC. Courtney focuses her practice in the areas of family law, criminal law, and juvenile law.