The situation with the coronavirus is changing day by day. Our routines are changing dramatically. You may be wondering how this affects your legal case or your ability to get legal advice about issues that do not pause just because of a virus outbreak.
At Gresham Family and Bankruptcy Law, we are putting in place practical measures to ensure our own health and the health of our clients and others. These steps include:
Social Distancing: When an in-person consultation is absolutely necessary, we will arrange for people to sit the recommended 6-foot distance from each other. We are asking that people not shake hands.
Extra Cleaning: Our staff are wiping down conference tables, pens, clipboards, doorknobs, keyboards, and mouse’s, etc. with disinfecting wipes between appointments and on a regular basis.
Hand Washing: We have hand sanitizer throughout our office, including in the conference rooms. Clients, staff, and other visitors have access to several sinks where they can wash their hands.
Virtual Appointments: Many consultations can be handled over the phone or with a video conference. We are offering this option to our existing clients and people having a first-time consultation. Payment for a first-time consultation may be made through a LawPay link that we can email you.
Document Dropoff: We continue to welcome electronic documents, which either can be emailed to us or put in a shared Dropbox folder. You are welcome to mail paper documents to our office. If you need to drop off documents in person, our office is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday (now closed Fridays). We also have a physical drop box by our back door, near the top of the ramp leading to our office. This drop box has a small slot and is best for dropping off only a few documents at a time.
Document Signings: The Oregon circuit courts require electronically filed documents for most matters. We can e-file scans of signed documents with the court as long as you tell us that you have mailed the original to us.
Bankruptcy Signings: Currently, bankruptcy petitions still require a “wet signature” on one document. The remaining documents can be reviewed and signed remotely. We can mail or email the “wet signature” declaration to you to sign, and you can drop it back at our office. We continue to electronically file bankruptcy petitions.
Will Signings: Oregon law requires that wills be signed in the presence of two witnesses. We are accommodating will signings in our larger conference room, keeping the recommended 6 feet of space between the client and the attorney and having our staff witnessing stay at least 6 feet away, on the other side of the room. We recognize that many of our estate-planning clients are among those more vulnerable to the coronavirus and want to do everything possible to protect your health.
Family Law Court Hearings: Multnomah County is postponing dissolution and legal separation trials, modification trials, and other non-emergency family law hearings until after April 30. Clackamas and Washington counties postponed these types of hearings through March 27. Hearings for temporary custody based on immediate danger, Family Abuse Prevention Act restraining orders, stalking orders, expedited parenting time, and presumably other protective orders still will take place. We have the option of requesting participation in a hearing by phone or video for a client or witness.
Bankruptcy Hearings: All bankruptcy 341a meetings of creditors (the hearing you have to do after filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy) are postponed through April 10.
Probate Court Hearings: All probate hearings in the tri-county area are being postponed until after March 27.
Getting Court Orders Signed: The courts are open and functioning with restrictions. Court staff are people with families too. Courts may be operating with fewer staff due to the need to care for young children who are out of school or do to self-quarantining. Judges are able to view and sign orders and judgments electronically, and based on what we have seen from our hard-working judges in the past, some judges sign orders and judgments from home. They rely on staff, however, to review documents to make sure they are ready for a judge’s signature. The short answer is expect delays.
Probate Filings: We anticipate receiving extensions for filing inventories and annual accounts, though we continue to work on these reports with the cooperation of our clients, their tax accountants, and others. These documents can be electronically signed by the personal representative or we can mail a paper copy for you to review, sign, and return.
Strong Team: Gresham Family and Bankruptcy Law has a strong team in place with both attorneys and paralegals cross-trained in different practices areas so that we can help each other out if someone has to self-quarantine due to possible exposure to the coronavirus. Additionally, our two family law-only attorneys are completing the process to become admitted to practice in the federal bankruptcy court so that they can help with bankruptcy hearings if necessary.
Gresham Family and Bankruptcy Law has been part of the East County legal community since 2001. Our experienced attorneys have guided clients through crises and changes felt on both a personal and national basis. We will continue to do so. We have weathered 9/11, the Great Recession of 2008, and other hardships. We will get through this together.
Your attorney is happy to answer you have any questions about how the coronavirus outbreak will affect your case.