Although the physical office location for North Idaho Family Law, PLLC, is presently closed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we are still open for business and accepting new clients.
Each member of our legal team is working remotely on the same virtual private network which ensures us full access to the in-office server containing our clients’ case files and legal documents and allows us to work on and exchange documents securely and instantaneously. Additionally, we still have full access to the MyCase portal and our primary legal research program, Casemaker, from our home offices.
We have also implemented video conferencing via Zoom which has enabled us to seamlessly conduct office meetings, client meetings, and new client consultations. As usual, we are all reachable by phone during our normal office hours (8:30-5:00 pm Monday through Thursday, and 8:30 to 12:00 on Friday), and by email. If you are a current client, or a prospective client seeking to retain our services, please do not hesitate to contact us either by phone or email, and we will return your correspondence as quickly as possible.
Our team is committed to doing what we can to limit the spread of COVID-19 while continuing to diligently work remotely on our current clients’ behalf, maintain scheduled appointments, and accept new client consultations. Throughout this crisis, we have been and will continue striving to provide exceptional legal services.
Whether you are a current client, or a prospective client, it is important for you to know, however, that on March 13, 2020, the Supreme Court of Idaho issued an Order in response to Governor Brad Little’s Proclamation declaring a State of Emergency in Idaho.
This Order, which can be read in its entirety at the following link, https://isc.idaho.gov/eo/Emergency-Reduction-Extension-Order.pdf, has drastically limited access to all the courts in Idaho. With the exception of emergency matters, most trials, hearings, and motions have been postponed or rescheduled. At least for now, the Order is in place until April 22, 2020, which is, of course, subject to modification or extension depending on the Covid-19 outbreak developments.
This is a strange and worrisome time for us all, and we are each trying to rapidly adjust to the immense disruption of our everyday lives, both personally and professionally, while maintaining some sense of normality. We wish you all well and encourage you to take care of yourselves, family, friends, and the members of our small but vibrant community.
I. MOST RECENT ORDER FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF IDAHO
On March 26, 2020, the Supreme Court of Idaho issued its newest order (2d Amended Order), which can be read in full here, in response to the mandate from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to self-isolate, which can be read in full here.
The 2nd Amended Order further limits the operations of and access to the courts in Idaho and clarifies the Supreme Court of Idaho’s prior orders regarding the COVID-19 crisis. Most importantly, pursuant to the 2nd Amended Order, effective immediately, all State of Idaho court facilities shall conduct minimal operations through April 15, 2020.
Additionally, the following provisions are especially important for you to be aware of as an individual with a family law matter:
Paragraph 1: Only emergency hearings will be conducted which includes, civil protection order hearings, emergency guardianship proceedings, child protection proceedings, termination of parental rights hearings, adoptions, and other proceedings under Idaho Rules of Family Law Procedure 507 and 508. To the extent possible such matters shall be conducted telephonically or through video conferencing.
Paragraph 2: Treatment Court and Domestic Violence Court proceedings may continue at the discretion of the presiding judge to the extent such matters can be conducted telephonically or through video conferencing.
Paragraph 3: In civil cases, courtroom attendance should be limited to required court personnel, attorneys, parties, and necessary witnesses. Access by the public to proceedings may be requested but will be permitted at the discretion of the presiding judge.
Paragraph 7: During the pendency of the 2nd Amended Order, all courts will continue to accept new pleadings and filings in all cases.
- If the deadline for filing any document, holding any hearing, or doing any other thing in court falls on or between March 26, 2020, and April 15, 2020, the time for filing or doing any other thing shall be extended until April 16, 2020. If a hearing has been scheduled to occur during the effective date of the 2d Amended Order, the date for the hearing shall be reset to occur after April 16, 2020.
- A presiding judge may, without conducting a hearing, decide any motion where briefing has been completed or the deadline for completing briefing expired before entry of the 2d Amended Order. However, this provision does not apply to summary judgment or contempt motions.
Paragraph 8: THE 2ND AMENDED ORDER DOES NOT EXTEND ANY DEADLINE FOR A PARTY TO COMPLY WITH A NON-PROCEDURAL ORDER OR JUDGMENT OF A COURT.
Example: If a party has been previously ordered to produce discovery, pay child support, comply with a parenting time schedule, or transfer title to a property, the party must comply with that deadline. If the party cannot comply with the order or judgment for reasons related to Director Jeppesen’s Order to Self-Isolate or for any other reason, the party must seek relief by filing a motion.
Paragraph 9: THIS ORDER DOES NOT EXTEND ANY STATUTORY PERIOD TO FILE A COMPLAINT, COUNTERCLAIM, OR CROSS CLAIM, OR INITIATE ANY OTHER CLAIM FOR RELIEF.
Example: If you are served with a petition for divorce, you are still required to file a responsive pleading according to the ordinary timelines specified in the Idaho Rules of Family Law Procedure.
Paragraph 11: Disqualification of a judge without cause is suspended for all new case filings during the effective date of the 2d Amended Order.
Paragraph 13: Individuals who meet the criteria for “ill” or “high-risk” specified in the 2d Amended Order, paragraph 12, or who appear to be ill, shall be denied entrance to the courthouse.
Paragraph 15: Individuals with legitimate court business who are ill, caring for someone who is ill, or in a high-risk category are advised to stay home and request a continuance.
Paragraph 17: All Supreme Court hearings scheduled during the month of April 2020 will be vacated and the cases submitted on the briefs without oral argument, unless a written objection is filed.
The above breakdown of the 2d Amended Order is merely a guide intended to outline the pertinent changes to family law matters or related matters made to the Supreme Court of Idaho’s prior Amended Order issued on March 23, 2020. We strongly encourage you to read the complete 2d Amended Order which may be found at the embedded link above.
II. FINANCIAL RELIEF
On a national level, it is important for you to know that a $2 trillion emergency economic package that includes direct cash payments to people across the country to help them through the COVID-19 crisis was recently passed by the Senate 96 to 0, and the House is expected to follow suit on Friday, March 27, 2020.
Under this emergency economic package, if you made less than $75,000 in 2019, you will be eligible for the full one-time payment of $1,200. Couples who filed jointly and made less than $150,000 will get a one-time payment of $2,400. An individual who filed as “head of household” and earned $112,500 or less gets a one-time payment of $1,200. For every child in the household, an additional $500 will be added.
If you made more than $75,000, your payment will be reduced by $5 for every $100 of income that exceeds the limits. So, if you made $80,000 in 2019, you will receive $950. The payment decreases to zero for an individual making $99,000 or more or a couple making $198,000 or more. If you are a family of four, you will be eligible for a maximum of $3,400.
Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, said the relief checks will be sent out “within three weeks” to people for whom the IRS has information. You do not need to sign up or fill out a form to receive a payment, if you have been working and paying taxes since 2018.
Whether you are an established client or a prospective client, please contact our office if you have any general questions about your case or specific questions about the court’s response to the COVID-19 emergency and how it may affect your case.
Although our physical office remains closed at this time, we continue to work just as diligently to provide you with exceptional legal services while abiding by the court’s stringent orders and taking proactive measures to ensure the health of our team, our clients, and our community.
We have effectively transitioned to working remotely during this time, and, again, we may be reached during our normal office hours (Monday through Thursday 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, and Friday 8:30 am to 12:00 pm) via phone, email, or video conferencing. This is a strange and worrisome time for us all, and we are each trying to rapidly adjust to the immense disruption of our everyday lives, both personally and professionally, while maintaining some sense of normality. We wish you all well and encourage you to take care of yourselves, family, friends, neighbors, and the members of our small but vibrant community.