When North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued a statewide stay in place order on March 27, 2020, directing all residents to remain in their homes and only leave when performing essential tasks. The COVID-19 outbreak has impacted every facet of our lives, from work and school to social functions and major events.
Although spending all day and each day with your loved ones is a blessing for many families, there are some who are going through divorce. At Jetton & Meredith, PLLC, we have received many questions from our clients in recent weeks about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the divorce process in North Carolina.
While the stay in place order has temporarily closed down many businesses, the state court system is considered an essential government function, which means they are exempt from the governor’s stay in place order. However, the courts must still practice social distancing and therefore closed to the public.
In order to continue providing legal services, Chief Justice Cheri Beasley issued an order with the following seven emergency directives on April 2:
- Postpone court proceedings – for the second time – until June 1, 2020
- Continue posting of notices at court facilities denying entry by anyone infected with COVID-19
- Direct lawyers and other parties to avoid courthouses
- Allow court proceeding to be done through remote video and audio communications
- Authorize use of a sworn statement under perjury law, rather than notarization for court filings and oaths
- Authorize serving court documents through e-mail
When it comes to divorce, the recent order paves a way for finalization despite the limitations of the courts caused by the outbreak. For example, since many divorce documents (e.g. the initial Complaint, responsive pleadings to the Complaint, financial affidavits, and marital settlement agreements) need to be notarized, divorcing spouses may instead give sworn statements under the penalty of perjury in order to lawfully provide these documents to the court.
Our attorneys at Jetton & Meredith remain available to help individuals currently going through the divorce process and interested in filing for divorce during the pandemic. We are available by way of telephone or through video conferencing.
Contact Jetton & Meredith today at (704) 931-5535 for more information about divorce. Stay healthy and safe!