Electronic court filing, typically referred to as e-filing, is the process of transmitting legal documents from and to a litigant or attorney to the court and other relevant parties. In 2004, Connecticut began offering electronic filing in both small claims and civil matters. Now it has been mandated lawyers are required to e-file family law court documents. Upon the release of this new mandate, some have voiced concerns about the transmission of such sensitive documents like financial affidavits and mental health reports. In fact, some have worried that e-filing these documents would make them easily accessible for anyone with computer access. However, Connecticut judicial branch officials have gone on the record to dispel such concerns and have stated that sensitive family court documents in records, such as court orders and motions involved in divorce cases, will only be available for digital viewing by non-attorneys at the actual courthouse and not remotely on computers located outside of the court. Furthermore, some documents will be capable of being viewed even at the courthouse if protected by court order or law.
Connecticut and Family Law Court E-filing
The Connecticut family court chief administrative judge has made a point to emphasize that the ability to view electronic family law cases will be extremely more limited than the viewing of civil case documents. Documents that will be subject to e-filing requirements include those documents related to civil union/marriage dissolution, legal separations, and annulment. While e-filing is now mandatory for attorneys, self-represented litigants are not require to e-file, though they have the option to e-file if they choose. Officials have taken special care to address the privacy concerns being raised by Connecticut. During the implementation of the civil court e-filing system, and also during the decision to require e-filing in family court cases, there were years of meetings to determine how to best establish the e-filing process. Court administrators also provided guidance on how to draft the e-filing process, along with years of technical work on the system.
The Benefits of Connecticut’s E-filing System
Gone are the days of attorneys and their support staff having to trudge downtown to the local courthouse to file motions and other documents. No longer will mailing fees have to be paid to send documents to the courthouse. Now, attorneys can e-file documents remotely from their office while also having the ability to view relevant court documents filed by opposing counsel without submitting document requests in person at the courthouse. The costs and time that will be saved by the e-filing system will benefit attorneys, their clients, and also court officials and employees. Family law attorneys even had some say in the decision and were able to voice their concerns that they wanted to ensure that children’s birth dates, mothers’ maiden names, and other sensitive information was secured and protected on the e-filing system.
In October and November, special e-filing training sessions were held for members of the Connecticut family law bar. Our attorneys are ready to comply with the new family court e-filing court requirement. Contact the experienced Fairfield County family law attorneys at our law firm for legal representation in family court.