As our state deals with the impacts of Covid-19, Louisiana courthouses and clerk’s offices have had to close their doors to the public to limit the spread of exposure. All courthouses in the Greater New Orleans Area have suspended any hearings other than emergency filings and have implemented other measures in response to this crisis. This article will break down the measures currently taken by each clerk’s office and how the measures may affect people looking to file for divorce. Please note that this is an ever-changing situation – you should consult your local clerk’s website for the most up-to-date information. This article was written on April 1, 2020 and updated on April 21, 2020. It will be updated as more information is issued from the courts.

Please refer to this article for more information on what qualifies for an uncontested divorce. When determining which parish applies to you, you can file your divorce in the parish (1) you live; (2) your spouse lives; or (3) the last parish you and your spouse lived together.

ORLEANS PARISH CLERK’S OFFICE

On March 27, 2020, the Orleans Parish Clerk’s Office was closed except for emergency filings until further notice. Electronic filings are being accepted by the court. Any hearings during the closure are cancelled and will be reset when the court reopens. The closure will have the same effect as a legal holiday which means that any deadlines during the closure will be continued until the court reopens.

What this means for you: If you need to file a divorce in Orleans Parish or if you have a case pending in Orleans Parish, you will only be able to file your petition or pleadings through an attorney with access to the court’s electronic filing. If you had a hearing scheduled during the closure, you will need to contact the court’s open to reschedule your hearing once it has reopened.

JEFFERSON PARISH CLERK’S OFFICE

Effective March 24, 2020, and until further notice, the Jefferson Parish Clerk’s Office is currently open and taking appointments for filings by appointment only between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Jefferson Parish Clerk’s Office is encouraging filings via electronic filing and fax filing to limit the number of people in the Clerk’s Office. Any hearings set between March 24, 2020 and May 4, 2020 are cancelled and will be reset after May 4, 2020 (this date is subject to change). All legal deadlines through May 4, 2020 (again, this date is subject to change) are suspended.

What this means for you: You can still file a divorce in Jefferson Parish. You can even complete a divorce during this time if you meet the requirements for an uncontested divorce. If your case is contested, you will not have a hearing set until after May 4, 2020 at the earliest. If you need service on the defendant by the sheriff, the deadline for your spouse to respond to your petition will be continued until after May 4, 2020 or a later date as set by the court. This means you will not be able to complete a contested divorce during this time and will have to wait for the court to reopen. If you had a hearing scheduled during the closure, you will need to contact the court’s open to reschedule your hearing once it has reopened.

ST. TAMMANY PARISH CLERK’S OFFICE

Effective March 20, 2020, and until further notice, the St. Tammany Parish Clerk’s Office is closed to the public except for emergency filings Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. The St. Tammany Parish Clerk’s Office is encouraging filings via electronic filing and fax filing to limit the number of people in the Clerk’s Office. Any hearings set between March 20, 2020 and May 4, 2020 are cancelled and will be reset after May 4, 2020 (this date is subject to change). Hearing Officer Conferences will be held via telephone. All legal deadlines during from through May 4, 2020 (again, this date is subject to change) are suspended.

What this means for you: You can still file a divorce in St. Tammany Parish. You can even complete a divorce during this time if you meet the requirements for an uncontested divorce. If your case is contested, you will not have a hearing set until after May 4, 2020 at the earliest. If you need service on the defendant by the sheriff, the deadline for your spouse to respond to your petition will be continued until after May 4, 2020 or a later date as set by the court. This means you will not be able to complete a contested divorce during this time and will have to wait for the court to reopen. If you had a hearing scheduled during the closure, you will need to contact the court’s open to reschedule your hearing once it has reopened.

PLAQUEMINES PARISH CLERK OF COURT

Effective March 20, 2020, and until further notice, the Plaquemines Parish Clerk’s Office is closed to the public. The Plaquemines Parish Clerk’s Office is encouraging filings via electronic filing and fax filing. Any hearings set from March 20, 2020 until the court reopens are cancelled and will be reset after the court reopens. All legal deadlines are suspended.

What this means for you: You can still file a divorce in Plaquemines Parish. You can even complete a divorce during this time if you meet the requirements for an uncontested divorce. If your case is contested, you will not have a hearing set until after the court reopens. If you need service on the defendant by the sheriff, the deadline for your spouse to respond to your petition will be continued until after the court reopens. This means you will not be able to complete a contested divorce during this time and will have to wait for the court to reopen. If you had a hearing scheduled during the closure, you will need to contact the court’s open to reschedule your hearing once it has reopened.

ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST/ST. CHARLES PARISH CLERK OF COURT

Effective March 20, 2020, and until further notice, the St. John the Baptist and St. Charles Parish Clerk’s Offices are open from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. The courts will continue to hear emergency and time sensitive matters as determined by each judicial division. All legal deadlines are suspended.

What this means for you: You can still file a divorce in St. John the Baptist and St. Charles Parish. You can even complete a divorce during this time if you meet the requirements for an uncontested divorce. If your case is contested, you will not have a hearing set until after the court reopens. If you need service on the defendant by the sheriff, the deadline for your spouse to respond to your petition will be continued until after the court reopens. This means you will not be able to complete a contested divorce during this time and will have to wait for the court to reopen. If you had a hearing scheduled during the closure, you will need to contact the court’s open to reschedule your hearing once it has reopened.

EAST BATON ROUGE CLERK’S OFFICE

On March 19, 2020, the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk’s Office was closed except for emergency filings until further notice. The court is processing petitions filed through electronic filing or mail. Any hearings during the closure are cancelled and will be reset when the court reopens. The closure will have the same effect as a legal holiday which means that any deadlines during the closure will be continued until the court reopens.

What this means for you: If you need to file a divorce in East Baton Rouge Parish or if you have a case pending in Orleans Parish, you will have to file electronically or through the mail. If you had a hearing scheduled during the closure, you will need to contact the court’s open to reschedule your hearing once it has reopened.

Rotharmel Shanks, LLC is here to help you navigate the divorce procedure in light of these temporary changes in the court system. Please give us a call to discuss your case.

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