“Zoom” ing Into a New Era in Texas Family Law Cases

“Zoom” ing into a new era in Texas family law cases brings forth a significant shift in the landscape of legal proceedings, particularly regarding child support matters. With the advent of virtual platforms like Zoom, family law cases in Texas are undergoing a remarkable transformation, ushering in a new era of accessibility and efficiency. Amidst the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the utilization of Zoom meetings for child support hearings and discussions in Texas has emerged as a crucial tool, enabling attorneys, judges, and families to convene remotely while ensuring the swift and effective resolution of cases. This evolution not only reflects the adaptability of the legal system but also highlights the importance of embracing technology to navigate the complexities of modern family dynamics in Texas.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, which at this point may be the recommendation from the government, you have likely noticed that our world has changed a significant degree over the past 12 to 13 months. While many of these changes are likely not going to be permanent, we have had to make do with different ways to live our lives in many restrictions on the things that we believed to be the most important. Restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus have limited our ability to see and spend time with loved ones, travel, attend in-person events, and even go to the park with our children.

Reflecting on the pandemic’s mental toll and the road ahead

In addition to the tangible challenges posed by the pandemic, we’ve also grappled with its mental toll, stemming from the fear induced by the restrictions imposed over the past year. The elusive nature of a respiratory virus makes its impact invisible, making it challenging to perceive the changes it brings to our lives. Unless personally affected by illness, many may not have fully recognized the extent of the coronavirus’s influence on our daily experiences. As a result, much of our concern over issues related to the virus are mental rather than physical.

Now that there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel as far as the pandemic is concerned, we can start to think about returning to more normal circumstances. One of the interesting conversations that I have with family and friends is what aspects of the pandemic we will take with us as we move forward in life; in which aspects will we be ready to leave behind? These are the big questions that we as a society and more locally here in the Houston area will begin to ask ourselves. As much as most of us want to get back to our normal lives, there will undoubtedly be some transition inherent in this process.

The pandemic’s impact on internet communication

One of the most notable changes to our lives has emphasized interpersonal communication done over the Internet over the past year. When I think back on all the difficulties we have encountered aside from sickness from the virus itself, I can’t help but think how much more difficult life would have been without the Internet. Whether it is on laptops, desktop computers, or cell phones, we have to use technology to a great extent to perform basic tasks. Even my 83-year-old grandmother figured out how to communicate with her doctors using virtual appointments on the computer.

Ubiquitous with the idea of using the Internet to communicate face to face with other people during this pandemic has been the zoom call. Zoom calls are essentially using your computer or phone’s camera to relay a video feed to another group of people with whom you are having a meeting. For example, instead of joining up with coworkers in a conference room or meeting room, someone could set up a zoom meeting wherein all parties could appear and exchange ideas and provide updates on projects or the goings-on at work. This has made coordinating projects and things of that nature much simpler as we had to deal with limitations on how often or how close we could come into contact with others during the pandemic.

Zoom and its influence within family law

These zoom meetings and zoom calls have impacted the world of family law, as well. Family law attorneys have utilized technology to our benefit for many years but have had to rely on even more so during this era of social distancing. In today’s blog post, I would like to share my thoughts on how the world of family law has taken advantage of Zoom to conduct business and accomplish client goals despite the challenges of the pandemic. I’ll also delve into how these technologies could potentially become permanent fixtures in the realm of family law as we transition out of the pandemic era and into a more stable and normalized environment.

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In the great battle between doing nothing and doing something, I believe the status quo overtakes most people’s desire to do something. Meaning, if you know that you need to run an errand or do something for work, you are much more likely to procrastinate until something becomes essential. This happens in family law when people like you delay learning more about the divorce process because it is more comfortable doing nothing.

I like to think of it like this: staying in a bad marriage rather than getting a divorce is similar to a baby staying in their dirty diaper. If you pardon the somewhat stinky comparison, staying in a bad marriage may smell bad at times and may be uncomfortable, but it’s your mess, and you’re familiar with it. There is some discomfort to having change occur in your life. Any parent who has changed a few thousand diapers knows exactly what I’m talking about. A baby cries when they have a dirty diaper but will sometimes cry even more when changing it.

Grownups are not so different from babies who crave comfort and security. Even if you’ve considered the possibility of needing a divorce someday, you might have postponed discussing it with a seasoned family law attorney because the familiarity of your troubled marriage seemed more tolerable than the thought of ending it. Then, when the pandemic struck last year, staying indoors became even more appealing, deterring you from seeking counsel on this vital matter. After all, we were encouraged to stay home and stay safe, believing it to be a patriotic act.

However, as a generation that embraces technology more than any previous one, we’ve discovered that not meeting someone in person is no longer a barrier to conducting business. Instead, meeting with an attorney via Zoom has become one of the most commonly utilized technological applications at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. The truth is we were using zoom-like technologies for virtual consultations long before COVID-19. However, utilizing this technology became necessary as in-person meetings were impossible or desirable for most people last year.

Maximize your time: consulting family law attorneys via zoom

It is an absolute necessity to speak to multiple family law attorneys before beginning a divorce or child custody case. You can only hire one attorney to represent you in your divorce or child custody case. Still, you want to get the impression of the opinion of multiple attorneys before beginning your case. As a result, you should maximize your time and seek out consultations with attorneys whenever and wherever you can. That used to mean getting in your car is driving around Houston to speak with attorneys.

However, given the technology available to us using programs like zoom, we can avoid jumping in the car and perform these operations at home using only an Internet connection. Speaking to an experienced family law attorney has to be one of the essential steps you should undertake before beginning your divorce for the child custody case. Different attorneys will tell you different things about your case. Different attorneys will charge you different amounts representing your period; all of these are important bits of information together before jumping into a contested family law case.

Don’t get me wrong: our attorneys are more than happy to talk with you in person, over the phone, or using zoom. We know that some people are more comfortable using different types of technology, and others want to meet face-to-face. We want you to know that we can use any of these mediums to get to know you better and provide you with information about family law in Texas. However, zoom functioned very well for our office and our clients during the consultative process and during a family law case.

Using Zoom to attend mediation

Mediation stands out as perhaps the most valuable tool in a family law attorney’s arsenal. It involves a process where you, your attorney, your spouse, their attorney, and an experienced mediator convene at the mediator’s office to explore the possibility of reaching a settlement on various outstanding issues in your divorce or child custody case. The success rate of mediation is so high that nearly every family law court in Southeast Texas mandates that you and the opposing party attempt mediation at least once before proceeding to trial.

Traditionally and historically, mediation takes place in person at the mediator’s office. This setup is considered ideal for mediation because it cultivates a focused environment where all parties are fully engaged in the task at hand. Physically being present at the mediator’s office necessitates concentration on the mediation process, as individuals cannot be in multiple locations simultaneously.

Therefore, attending mediation in person compels participants to direct their attention to the matter under discussion to a significant degree. It is also nice to talk with your attorney and get to know them even better than you did previously. The interesting part about family law cases is that there are times during your case where it is tranquil, and you and your attorney may not have seen each other in person for many weeks. Mediation allows both of you 2 acclimate yourselves to one another again and prepare, if necessary, for a trial.

Virtual mediations: a lasting solution amidst pandemic restrictions

Last year, due to obvious reasons, people were understandably hesitant to attend mediation sessions in person. Consequently, attorneys and mediators had to adapt and become more flexible by utilizing virtual services like Zoom to facilitate mediations. To an extent, this was a fairly big departure from normal mechanisms as far as holding mediation. Many agreements immediately would mandate that all parties be present for mediation to occur. This meant that unless you were serving overseas in the military, you would need to fly in or ask very nicely of the opposing party to attend by phone or by the virtual conference.

Since mediation is so critical to the success of a family law case, there wasn’t a better option last year and for much of this year than conducting the process using zoom. From a time perspective, this was something that everyone could get behind. The fact is that everyone involved in a family law case is busy: you, your opposing party, the attorneys, and the mediator. Nobody was going to complain about being able to do a mediation from your office or home. This makes me believe that virtual mediations are here to stay even as we begin to transition back into a period of normalcy.

Preparing for virtual mediations: importance and coordination

However, it’s worth noting that communication isn’t necessarily easier over a computer than it is in person. Speaking from the perspective of an older millennial accustomed to leveraging technology for work-related goals, I’ve found that virtual conferences and mediations can sometimes lead to misinterpretation and lost nuances. As a result, I’ve consistently emphasized the importance of thorough preparation before engaging in Zoom mediations. While being prepared for mediation has always been essential, it’s doubly so now as more mediation appointments are conducted online.

However, just because your opposing party may want to hold mediation over zoom does not mean that you necessarily have to agree to it. While a preference resume may have held sway during the pandemic, the further we get from the pandemic, the fewer and fewer concerns over illness in sickness become when it comes to doing things in person. There will be more important issues for you to face in your case, but this is still one where you will need to work closely with your opposing party to coordinate your efforts and to make sure that both of you have an opportunity to make the most out of your opportunities to mediate the case.

Using Zoom to answer discovery requests

As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the most advantageous applications of technology. Discovery requests are typically exchanged between parties in a family law case leading up to the temporary orders hearing or shortly thereafter. These requests entail answering questions, providing information, and sharing documents pertinent to the case. By doing so, both sides gain insight into each other’s arguments, enabling them to negotiate final orders more effectively.

With that said, discovery can be one of the more tedious aspects of a family law case. Many questions and requests for information proffered by the other side can be objected to based on certain legal principles and grounds. Other times, even when you have to turn over information, there are certain tools of the trade to utilize when responding. The ability for a law office to communicate to their client how to best respond to these questions can lead to disagreements and discrepancies.

However, using zoom, parties and their attorneys can coordinate their efforts much better regarding answering discovery requests. You and your attorney should be looking to utilize technology as much as possible, especially in the areas where it can offer you the most benefit. Rather than having your time be taken up by going to your attorney’s office to answer discovery requests, you can simply log on to the Internet and meet with your attorney and their staff to answer these requests for information.

Conclusion

In the realm of child support Zoom meetings in Texas, the benefits of enhanced communication become apparent, especially when compared to traditional phone meetings. The ability to see each participant’s face clearly and hear their voice distinctly significantly improves the often tedious process for all involved. While I’m no expert in interpersonal communication, I firmly believe that something vital is lost when visual cues are absent during interactions. Utilizing Zoom not only saves time but also has the potential to save money by reducing errors in responding to discovery requests.

Questions about the material presented in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material presented in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and the changing circumstances your family may encounter by filing a divorce or child custody case.

  1. Do Legal Zoom Wills hold up in court?
  2. Zoom Etiquette: How Does It Relate to a Texas Family Law Case?
  3. Virtual Divorce Consultations and How They Work in Texas
  4. The Impact of Virtual Court Hearings on the Judicial System
  5. Virtual Mediations in a Post-COVID-19 World
  6. Virtual Visitation: Strengthening Parent-Child Bonds in Texas Families
  7. Texas Divorce and Virtual Parenting or Electronic Access to Children
  8. 6 Mistakes that can Destroy Your Texas Divorce Case
  9. 10 Quick Tips About Parental Visitation
  10. Does it Matter who Files First in a Texas Divorce?
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