by Justin Kelsey, Past President of MCLC.
If you have a court hearing scheduled in the next few weeks, most likely you've been told it's postponed. While some hearings will be scheduled telephonically and by video conference, the COVID-19 pandemic is likely causing significant delays in obtaining a hearing and an order or judgment. (For updates on the Massachusetts court's current status check here.) These delays are understandable as the court and the bar figure out how to adjust to this crisis. Regardless of how necessary these precautions are, though, the experience for individuals going through conflict must be frustrating, disappointing, and in some cases devastating.
- Get to know collaborative professionals who can be a resource for your family in times of crisis. Don't assume your lawyer or the court is going to be there to help, or that they should be your first call when there is a conflict.
- For professionals, get trained in collaborative law so you can provide additional service options to your clients (click here to learn about upcoming collaborative law training in the fall).
- Encourage the Massachusetts Bar Association (or your local bar association) to add collaborative representation as a service option in their lawyer referral directory. This has been proposed before to the Mass Bar and rejected, but it seems like it may finally be time to recognize how important it is to have alternatives to the court, and that the professionals who offer those alternatives offer a vital service.