Effect of Current Stay-at-Home Orders on Family Law Cases

On March 10, 2020, Governor Roy Cooper declared a State of Emergency in North Carolina. As a result of this declaration and further executive orders in the last month, Justice Beasley, of the North Carolina Supreme Court has entered several Orders limiting the normal operation of the North Carolina Court System. The Orders entered by Justice Beasley have expressly ordered the rescheduling of all proceedings unless:

  1. The proceeding can be conducted remotely
  2. The proceeding is necessary to preserve the right to due process of law
  3. The proceeding is for the purpose of obtaining emergency relief
  4. The senior resident superior court judge, the chief business court judge or chief district court judge determines that the proceeding can occur under conditions that protect the health and safety of all participants.

Unfortunately, the majority of family law matters do not fall under these specific exceptions to the rescheduling directive. However, the experienced divorce attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are still working for our clients and are ready to assist with your family law needs. Contact our attorneys today to schedule an initial consultation to discuss the impacts of the COVID-19 related Orders on your case.

Can I still get divorced?

Divorce is generally used as an all-encompassing term, but it is multiple distinct issues under the broader category of family law. A "divorce" is actually the change in status from married to single and is on the basis of a one-year statutorily defined period of separation. Justice Beasley's Orders still allow filings and initiation of new cases. So, while, the time frame for obtaining the final judgment may be extended as a result of COVID-19, you are still presently able to begin the process. If you believe you are presently eligible for a divorce, contact our office to set up consultation with one of our skilled divorce attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC to discuss your options.

Can I separate from my spouse during the Coronavirus outbreak?


Although the stay-at-home Orders entered by Governor Cooper are intended to restrict public movement, they do not prohibit relocation. It is important to note that moving out may not be as easy or as simple as it was prior to the stay-at-home orders. There are important factors to consider if you plan to leave the marital residence. There are multiple options available for you and your spouse to consider when deciding to separate. You should protect yourself and your rights and claims arising from the marriage and our skilled and knowledgeable attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC have the experience to evaluate what is the best option for you. You should consult with an experienced attorney at Arnold & Smith, PLLC prior to beginning a separation.

If you are in a dangerous situation involving domestic violence, the courts are still open for persons seeking this type of emergency relief. If you feel unsafe or your residence has become unsafe due to domestic violence concerns, contact our attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC or your local domestic violence victim advocates to seek assistance.

But what about my case?

Justice Beasley's Orders restrict the operation of the North Carolina Court system to specific matters. Routine matters, including the majority of family law issues, are presently being rescheduled to a later date. Although the court may not be holding regular hearings, they are still accepting filings and initiating new cases with the filing of complaints. Although, you may not be able to get heard by a Judge instantly, you can still begin the case process and timelines. In family law cases, a factor in the relief is when the claim was filed. Particularly in post separation support and child support cases, the Judge has the ability to order payments beginning as of the date of filing. If you wait until after the North Carolina courts resume standard operations, you could potentially be leaving large amounts of support untouched and unable to be recovered. Your date of separation matters and your date of filing matters. It is important to preserve these dates as soon as possible and our experienced divorce attorneys are ready to help you begin this process.

Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney

If you are considering beginning the divorce process, or initiating a separation, contact an experienced divorce attorney in the greater Charlotte area of North Carolina to help you understand your legal rights, and how best protect yourself. Contact an experienced divorce attorney at Arnold & Smith, PLLC at 704.370.2828 or online today to schedule your consultation.