One of the best things about the pandemic was that it made us all realize the possibilities of remote working. The legal world was certainly not exempt from these transformations, and today many hearings are conducted remotely. Of course, there have been many “growing pains” along the way as legal professionals and normal citizens adjust to this new system. But what are some of the major issues associated with remote divorces? How does one make sure that remote hearings are handled effectively?
Like it or not, remote hearings are probably here to stay. Divorcing spouses have no choice but to adjust to this new system, but they can learn how to approach remote divorces with intention and set themselves up for success.
It Depends on the Judge
Each judge may have their own preferences when it comes to whether hearings should be handled remotely or in-person. Some judges do not really care which option you choose, while others will insist that you attend court in-person. Still others say that you should continue remotely if you began the process remotely.
Rural Communities are More Likely to Choose Remote Hearings
Rural communities are more likely to choose remote hearings for somewhat obvious reasons. This is part of a larger trend which also includes the prevalence of virtual medical appointments for rural patients.
Cost and Speed Were Improved Thanks to Remote Hearings
One benefit of remote hearings was that timing and cost were reduced. The infamous backlog of many divorce courts has been addressed somewhat by virtual hearings, and these hearings are inherently cheaper than their in-person counterparts. In fact, some legal experts have expressed concerns that as in-person hearings take center stage once again, fewer people will have access to justice because of inflated legal costs.
More Infrastructure is Needed
If online hearings really are the way of the future, then more work must be done to modernize the infrastructure of court buildings. Many of these concrete buildings have no internet connection whatsoever. Some simply have unreliable cell phone signals in obscure corners of the structure.
How Remote Hearings Can be Improved
The general consensus is that remote hearings are a good thing – but they can be improved. Some statistics show that the vast majority of lawyers feel that remote hearings were essentially the same as in-person hearings. The major issue is the technology barrier. Not everyone is adept at using remote technology, and the learning curve can be excessive for some users.
Some experts have found that in-person hearings have certain advantages, such as being able to lean over and whisper to a client during the process. While this is still possible with remote hearings, it requires additional technological know-how.
Another major concern is the decline in formality. Attendees can be easily distracted with everything that goes on in the background, including eating, drinking, television, smoking, and driving.
These issues can be ironed out in the future, and they are not so troublesome that they will prevent the emergence and success of remote hearings.