Big news! NYC Courts are opening for new, non-essential, filings beginning on Monday, May 26th! (Yes, that is Memorial Day!) So what does that mean? Well, none of us are 100% certain. We are in uncharted waters still. What we do know is that we can buy index numbers, commence new actions and stake out a place in line for a new matter – First come, first served! As for moving the new cases forward I would expect that will remain slow. Thus far, most NYC Courts have been holding video conferences for pending cases with attorneys only. To my knowledge no judges have moved any matrimonial or Family Court cases forward on trials or appearances with parties in attendance, video or otherwise. But opening for new filings is still great news. For one thing, purchasing the index number and commencing the action has important consequences. The filing date stops the clock on the acquiring of further marital assets or liabilities. In other words, after the date of filing, and possibly service, what you earn is likely yours and personal debts your spouse incurs likely theirs. Additionally, with service of the action upon your spouse Automatic Orders go into place that mandate neither party take, transfer or move any marital assets. This can be invaluable if done in time. Once your spouse moves or hides assets the cost and time expenditure in litigation can be substantial. A spouse that ignores the Automatic Orders and moves, transfers or hides marital assets will raise the Courts ire and can suffer real consequences. Probably most important is that as the Courts open they will be swamped by new cases. First in time, first in line, will give you an edge in securing the earliest conference and appearance dates as they are assigned.