Florida “Reopening” and the New Normal
Monday, May 4, 2020, marked the expiration of the Florida “safer-at-home” order that mandated all Floridians to stay at home in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Slowly, the state has began the reopening phase and allowed many sectors of the economy to begin operations. As we navigate the new normal of social distancing and the use of facemasks, the courts are also navigating the new normal in maintaining their operations while protecting the people they serve.
During the pandemic, the family law courts have continued to operate. The courts have quickly moved from the traditional court setting to a virtual one. On May 21, 2020, the Florida Supreme Court signed Administrative Order No.AOSC20-32 and No.AOSC20-23 Amendment 2 addressing the public safety precautions of the gradual reopening and extending the emergencies measures to court proceedings previously implemented.
In order for the courts to expand the in-person activities they must first meet the following criteria:
1. No confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 in the court facility within a 14-day period; or if confirmed or suspected cases have
occurred in the court facility, deep cleaning and disinfecting of exposed areas and applicable employee self-quarantine actions have been implemented.
2. Rescission of local and state restrictive movement and/or stay-at-home orders.
3. Improving COVID-19 health conditions over a 14-day period in the community, including conditions such as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and related deaths in relation to a community’s population density, downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests, size of particularly vulnerable populations, and availability of medical facilities including emergency and intensive care capacity.
4. Adequate testing programs in place, increased availability of COVID-19 tests, and emerging antibody testing.
5. Consultation with other building occupants (for multi-tenant courthouses or buildings) and with justice system partners (including, but not limited to clerk of court, state attorney, public defender, law enforcement, local bar, and others necessary to resume certain case types, such as the Department of Children and Families).
Moreover, the use of technology continues to be highly encouraged in order to move cases along. It appears that the new changes under the pandemic will continue to be implemented as we slowly go back to the normal we knew before the pandemic. Whether you are considering filing for divorce, time-sharing or child support for the first time, or you are considering revisiting your case, the law office for Jennifer T. Dane is here to assist you during the new normal as we slowly transition to a post COVID-19 world.