Alternative Dispute Resolution Options During COVID-19

Since March and until at least June 1st, Oregon courts statewide will be working only in a limited capacity. Only specific types of matters deemed “essential” will be heard, either in person or remotely. What does this mean for your family law matter?

Jill Brittle spoke to KGW News Reporter Morgan Romero about these delays, who will be impacted, and how families need more urgent help to resolve their disputes.

Read the full article on here

For the most part, only urgent family law matters are being heard by the court. Some can be heard in person, some will be held remotely. These include:

  • Hearings on “immediate danger” motions (where a child is at risk with a parent);
  • Hearings on “orders of assistance” motions that involve obtaining physical custody of a child held in violation of a custody order;
  • Hearings on protective orders (Family Abuse Prevention Act, Elderly Persons and Persons with Disabilities Abuse Prevention Act, Sexual Abuse Protection Orders, Extreme Risk
  • Protection Orders, and stalking orders);
  • Hearings on contested protective orders;
  • Hearings on pre-judgment and post-judgment status quo matters;
  • Hearings on motions to enforce parenting time;
  • Any hearing the Presiding Judge deems necessary to hold in the interest of the public’s health; and
  • Family law facilitation and mediation.

For all other matters (temporary support hearings, divorce trials, modifications of custody or parenting time, modifications of support), hearings are being postponed until at least June 1st. Practically speaking, the delay will likely be longer as the courts try to accommodate the added burden of scheduling on already-full dockets.

Many matters simply cannot wait until the summer. For example, some parties need temporary financial support during their divorce. It is not a realistic option to wait until July for a hearing, when you need to pay the mortgage right now. Since many families cannot or do not wish to wait to resolve matters that may have been pending for a year already, alternative dispute resolution options should be explored. Family law facilitation and mediation offices are continuing to provide remote mediation support to families to try to resolve parenting and custody issues. Other options include private mediation with a Senior/Retired Judge, the Collaborative Divorce Process, and binding arbitration. Parties should also consider exchanging written settlement proposals to narrow their issues and resolve at least some of their disputes without waiting for a hearing.

Our lawyers are working remotely, but are available to meet with clients via various types of technology. Call us today to discuss how we can help you resolve your case without waiting for a court date.