LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Another unexpected consequence of the coronavirus – couples across the state who have to wait to untie the knot.
The pandemic has forced the courts to close for months, leaving unprecedented backlogs in divorce cases.
"It is very frustrating," said Pearl Barlow, who is waiting for her divorce petitions to go to court. "It's just a waiting game for me and I feel like my life is put on hold."
Barlow said she hoped to get divorced before the end of 2020, but now she fears it could take up to two years.
"They just said," We're closed "and" Don't call us. We will contact you as soon as we open again, "she said.
Vernon Ellicott, a family law attorney, said all courts in California are having trouble keeping up with the number of cases they have had to defer in the past few months.
"It's the biggest backlog that any of us have ever seen," he said. "Part of the problem is that nobody knows what to do because he has never been in this situation before."
Ellicott says that lawsuits scheduled to start in the spring or summer may not take place until next year, and parents like Christine, who manages a custody case, will remain pending.
"It's so stressful just to think about what-ifs," said Christine. "I'd rather just finish this day."
Paternity and maintenance cases are also held up.
Lawyers said while some clients understand, many are frustrated.
"I just can't get past it if I just want this to be over," said Barlow.
Christine said she hoped the court could find a new way to do business in the coronavirus era.
"All of the rest of us have to navigate through this new world we'll live in for a few years," she said. "We all have to adapt. The courts should also adapt."