Since March, 2020, the way lawyers present contested family law cases has been significantly altered. The idea of remote trials became a mainstream concept, with nearly all local courts at least adopting them for a time. Now, as things begin to open up again, the courts are developing their plans to return to the courtrooms and hearings in the courthouses.
But we have all learned something. We have learned that trials conducted remotely are actually pretty darn convenient, effective, efficient, and even a bit more affordable. We have found out that witnesses prefer logging on from their kitchen at a certain time over sitting in the hallway at court for several hours. We have learned that displaying exhibits onscreen allows the attorney to underscore the value of those exhibits.
Of course, we’ve also learned the horrors of unstable internet connections.
Time will tell if any of these discoveries will lead to changes, however. To implement many of these remote procedures took a combination of executive orders from the Governor and emergency orders from the Virginia Supreme Court. But there may now be a taste for allowing witnesses from outside the Commonwealth to testify from their remote locations. Attorneys might even agree to such procedures. Will the courts allow it? Order it?
Time will tell.