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Court Hearings and Technology

While Pennsylvania courts have reopened since the summer shutdown, many courts are still only operating in-person hearings in emergency circumstances. This can cause issues for Pennsylvania couples looking to start or finalize their divorce.

This may not be ideal for them. However, there are alternatives available. In many counties across Pennsylvania, courts are conducting hearings via video communication.

Initially, many judges were skeptical of this method. But since in-person court hearings are still a public health concern, most are becoming more open to the idea, as they may be the norm for the foreseeable future.

If your hearings are being conducted by video, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Things to remember during a digital divorce hearing

These are some general guidelines for a successful hearing:

  • Call in at the appropriate time: Much like showing up to a standard court hearing, both parties must call into the courtroom at the time their hearing is scheduled.
  • Have a back-up device in hand: Even today, not all of our technology operates the way it’s supposed to. Whether one party’s battery randomly dies or their device’s Wi-Fi connection is spotty, they should have a back-up method.
  • Mute the device: Having two-way communication is vital during court hearings. Whether it’s a tense conflict or not, parties should put their phones or other electronics on mute to avoid disrupting one another. That includes keeping background noises to a minimum and only speaking when asked to by a judge.
  • Identify one’s self before speaking: Alongside using respectful communication, both parties should identify who they are if they choose not to use screens.
  • Act as you would in court:  Even though video hearings seem more informal because you can attend from your own living room, it remains a court proceeding.  You should dress as you would for an in-person court hearing.  Although you may not see the court reporter, remember that every word you say will be recorded.  Treat a video hearing with the same formality you would treat an in-person hearing.