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Category Archives: Family

State Court Locations Fully Open as of August 2, 2021

All state court locations will reopen to the public as of August 2, 2021, thus concluding the temporary restrictions on public access to the courthouses implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of that August 2, 2021 date, individuals may be present in court locations regardless of their involvement in a scheduled court proceeding and without the need for an appointment.

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COVID-19 trends throughout New Jersey are improving, as reflected in the latest COVID-19 Activity Level Index (CALI) report posted by the New Jersey Department of Health (NJ DOH). Appropriate public health precautions still remain important, however, especially in indoor locations where individuals are summoned to be present as compared to other public and private places that they choose to visit.

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The New Jersey courts are committed to continuing court operations during and after the COVID-19 public health pandemic emergency. To that end, by Orders dated March 27, 2020, April 24, 2020 and further clarified by the May 15, 2020 Order, the Supreme Court permitted electronic signatures for all documents to which the seal of the court is affixed.

The initial and subsequent orders issued by the Supreme Court specifically includes Judgements of Divorce and Qualified Domestic Relations Orders. The Bergen Family Division is guided by these Orders and is following direction by the Superior Court Clerk’s Office to utilize electronic signatures and seals for family documents.

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COVID-19 trends throughout New Jersey are encouraging, making it possible for the Judiciary to continue to increase on-site presence of Superior and Municipal Court judges and state court employees in court locations. That larger percentage of judges and employees will support more in-person court events and expanded availability of in-person court services. At the same time, the Judiciary will continue to provide remote options, both for court services and for those court proceedings that can be effectively conducted in a remote format. As we have throughout COVID-19, the Judiciary will continue to prioritize the health and safety of all court users.

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The Supreme Court has approved a Background Screening Policy for Proposed Guardians of Incapacitated Adults (the “policy”). This directive promulgates that new policy and related new and revised court forms. It also provides guidance for use of the new policy, which will apply to guardians in matters filed on or after May 15, 2021.

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The Supreme Court has approved a background screening policy for certain proposed guardians of incapacitated adults. The Court also has amended Rule 4:86 (“Action for Guardianship of an Incapacitated Person or for the Appointment of a Conservator”) so as to implement the policy. As approved by the Judicial Council, a new Certification of Criminal and Civil Judgment History has been promulgated, along with revised versions of a number of other court forms.

Proposed guardians in matters filed on or after May 15, 2021 will be subject to this new background screening policy. Directive #11-21 (“Guardianships of Incapacitated Adults – Background Screening Policy for Proposed Guardians; New and Revised Court Forms”) promulgates the new policy as well as the new and revised forms. This memo outlines the steps necessary for implementation of the policy.

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The New Jersey courts are continuing to support public health and safety during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The attached overview summarizes current health precautions in state court facilities, including the requirements that court users wear face masks and maintain social distancing (subject to narrow exceptions).

The attached summary reminds attorneys and others that the majority of court events still are being conducted remotely. For state court matters, all court users can request use of courthouse technology rooms, which are spaces in state court facilities with technology that can be used to participate in virtual court sessions.

Questions about this notice may be directed to the Office of the Administrative Director of the Courts at (609) 376-3000.

/s/ Hon. Glenn A. Grant, J.A.D.

Acting Administrative Director of the Courts

Dated: February 23, 2021

NOTICE Health and Safety Precautions in State Courts Facilities and Availability of Courthouse Technology Rooms to Facilitate Remote Participation in Court Events.pdf

This directive provides a protocol to support consistent management of cases that require the consent or lack of objection of all parties to proceed in a remote format during the temporary modifications necessitated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and for so long as court operations are not conducted primarily in person. It sets forth a series of steps (1) to memorialize on the record a party’s objection to proceeding remotely, or the inability of counsel to ascertain a party’s position; (2) to provide notice to the parties, attorneys, and other participants when a matter is scheduled for an in-person court event based on an objection to proceeding remotely; and (3) to provide an opportunity for participants to request individual adjustments and accommodations that will enable the scheduled court event to proceed. This protocol is applicable to the trial divisions of the Superior Court and to the Municipal Courts, subject to limited exceptions as noted.

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The Supreme Court in its April 20, 2020 Order reaffirmed that court operations would continue in a remote format to the greatest extent practicable, subject to narrow exceptions. That continues to be the case.

The Court in the attached February 22, 2021 Order has refined one provision of that April 20, 2020 Order. As provided in that order, certain matters with especially serious or permanent consequences or penalties still can be conducted remotely only with the consent of all parties. However, the consent of a party will not be required if the party is absent and unreachable.

Directive #06-21 (“COVID-19 – Protocol for Matters that Cannot Proceed in a Remote Format Without Consent – In Furtherance of the Supreme Court’s Orders Dated April 20, 2020 and February 22, 2021”), dated February 23, 2021 and published separately, provides guidance as to matters that can proceed remotely only with the consent of the parties. The directive provides a step-by-step protocol (1) to memorialize on the record a party’s objection to proceeding remotely, or the inability of counsel to ascertain a party’s position; (2) to provide notice to the parties, attorneys, and other participants when a matter is scheduled for an in-person court event based on an objection to proceeding remotely; and (3) to provide an opportunity for participants to request individual adjustments and accommodations that will enable the scheduled court event to proceed. Directive #06-21 also promulgates model certifications and an exemplar Order Scheduling In-Person Hearing, for use in accordance with the Court’s February 22, 2021 Order.

Questions about this notice, the Court’s February 22, 2021 Order, or Directive #06-21 may be directed to the Office of the Administrative Director of the Courts at (609) 376-3000.

/s/ Hon. Glenn A. Grant, J.A.D.

Acting Administrative Director of the Courts

Dated: February 23, 2021

NOTICE Refinement of Court Matters That Can Proceed Remotely.pdf

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