Court hearing procedures have changed dramatically with COVID. Rather than the in-person hearings of the past, hearings are now conducted by an electronic platform called "Webex" in Colorado. Only a few types of family law hearings are now commonly conducted in-person such as; civil protection orders, parenting time restrictions, parental abduction hearings, and dependency & neglect hearings.
It is possible to download a free version of Webex. Webex hearings have been determined by the Colorado Court of Appeals not to violate constitutional rights. Virtual hearings require additional preparation and planning by attorneys, parties, and witnesses. They can save money, however. For example, evidence can be shared online rather than preparing several copies of expensive paper trial notebooks. Your attorneys should provide you with detailed information about how a Webex hearing will occur and how you can participate.General Guidance
Like in-person hearings, Webex meetings are open to the public. Everyone should follow the same standards as with in person hearings to include:
- Appropriate dress - good advice is to dress like you are going to church
- Quiet and well-lit environment
- Properly functioning electronics and Internet
- Minimal distractions - have someone care for children and pets
- Microphone muted unless speaking
- Upload all proposed exhibits prior to the hearing
- Exhibits can be shared electronically with the share content button rather than paper notebooks
- The Rules of Evidence apply
- Hearings may take longer if there are technical support issues
- Attorneys and clients should set up a way to communicate outside of the courtroom, whether by phone or e-mail as the chat function will be disabled on Webex
- Safety - Courts can hold hearings safely. There is less exposure to COVID in the home.
- Convenience - Litigants do not have to travel to court and can attend the hearings from their homes, offices or cars.
- Cost - Litigants can eliminate costs for attorney travel time and paper evidentiary notebooks.
- Control - Judges cannot control a virtual courtroom as well in terms of who is physically present, who is using a cell phone, etc.
- Illegal Recordings - Recordings of court proceedings are not allowed and courts do not know if recordings are occurring virtually.
- Cost - It takes attorneys and courts more time and expense to prepare for virtual hearings.
- Participant Behavior - Some judges feel that litigants do not display the same deference or demeanor when outside of the courtroom in the comfort of their own homes or offices.
Divorce and family law matters are difficult to navigate alone. The court system is more complex than it should be. With offices in Colorado Springs and Denver, we can guide you through the experience by handling pleading and motion preparation and filing, negotiation, mediation, and court proceedings from start to finish. This allows you to focus on moving forward to a better future rather than on trying to figure out how the overly complex court system works. Remember that change often creates new opportunity and a better future. Janko Family Law can help ensure that your best interests and the best interests of your family are protected. Contact us at 719-344-5523 or complete our online form to set up a free thirty-minute informational consultation.