COVID-19 Practice Area Impact: Family Law

Interview with BBA Family Law Section Co-Chair, David Friedman, Verrill

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted Family Law specifically?
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the practice of Family Law.  This period of quarantine and stay-at-home orders has resulted in a host of parenting-related issues as parents weigh safety concerns against the importance of face-to-face parenting time.  On the other end of the spectrum, parents are also attempting to reconfigure parenting schedules where both parents attempt to work remotely with children at home.  Of course, there is also an economic reality to the crisis with wage reductions and unemployment directly impacting existing support orders.  Many people find themselves without the ability to meet his or her support obligation, while others now have a need for support.  Lastly, this period of stress coupled with perpetual family togetherness has served as the breaking point for many marriages.  As restrictions relax over time, it is anticipated that there will be an even greater rise in divorce filings. 
What resources are needed by Family Law practitioners right now? Clients?
Access to technology has been vitally important during these times.  Practitioners are scrambling to increase their ability to effectively work remotely.  It is now commonplace for mediations, settlement conferences, depositions and even hearings to take place either telephonically, or more ideally, via video conference.  Access to technology is necessary to stay competitive and to best serve your clients. 
What is the BBA Family Law Section focused on right now in terms of programming and resources for attorneys in this space?
The BBA Family Law Section has focused on creating CLEs that advise practitioners on various topics of practicing Family Law during this unprecedented time.  Many Family Law practitioners are either solo practitioners or smaller boutique firms.  We are striving to provide resources and expert insight that supports practitioners as to the practice of law, but also as small business owners.  Further, as we find ourselves more isolated than ever, we are focusing on providing mentorship and educational opportunities to less experienced practitioners through our Divorce Fundamental CLEs and a new mentorship program that connects practitioners of varying years of experience. This connectivity is more important than ever, and the very foundation of what a bar association should be.