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Public access to courts during COVID-19

For complete information and documentation about the Indiana judicial branch response to the COVID-19 pandemic, see courts.in.gov/covid. For public health information, data and guidance from the State Department of Health, see in.gov/coronavirus.

Courts are open, but may be operating on an emergency basis

Indiana's courts are open and continue to operate, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, court business may be limited to the highest priority matters. This includes efforts to protect the most vulnerable among us, to provide due process for criminal defendants, and to promote public safety.

The details of court operations may vary by county. The Supreme Court handed down an order on November 10 about continued emergency actions in trial courts. Learn about what courts are doing in your county by reading their transition plan and see the current list of petitions and orders regarding court operations in each county.

To check the status of your case and find out about hearing dates, search mycase.in.gov.

If you have questions about court operations in your county, see your local courts' website or call the court or clerk's office directly.

Remote hearings

The court handling your case may invite you to attend a remote hearing using a video conference app, and a Supreme Court order allows courts to live stream (extended until further order of the court) those hearings for public access. Appearing in a video conference is different than appearing in court.

Follow the instructions provided by the court, including the specific information on accessing the video conference. You should consider things like making sure you have a private space to be during the hearing, a good chair to sit in, and other tips for attending remote court hearings. See also frequently asked questions.

Getting legal help

As always, court staff cannot give legal advice because they must remain impartial. If you have a legal issue, please contact an attorney. There are several services in Indiana, including the Coalition for Court Access, to help you get answers to your legal questions and find legal help.

Child support, custody and parenting time

In an effort to aid parents and children as you stay at home during this public health emergency, the Indiana Supreme Court has ordered conditions regarding child support, custody and parenting time.

You are still obligated to pay child support according to your existing child support order. However you likely will not be able to pay in person. You may pay online, over the phone, or by mail. You may file an emergency petition to modify the support amount if you are unable to pay due to the pandemic.

You must continue to follow court orders for custody and parenting time, including following the school calendar as it was at the start of the year. However, if both parents (and any other parties to their case) agree that a change in custody or parenting time is needed, an informal written temporary agreement is allowed, or you may file an emergency petition.

Read the order for complete details. Note that if you wish to file an agreement, petition or motion without assistance from an attorney, you should file electronically. To get started with e-filing, see the E-filing User Guide.

See the Children's Commission website to access more resources for children and families during the pandemic. Also see a list of resources for families created by the Family Law Task Force for our Innovation Initiative.

Debt collection and stimulus payments

On April 20, 2020, the Indiana Supreme Court ordered (and extended through July 1, 2021) that during the COVID-19 public health emergency, Indiana courts may not place a hold on, attach, or garnish CARES Act stimulus payments (generally, the payments issued before March 2021), except for child support. If your account was already frozen under a previously issued order, upon your request, courts must hold an in-person or remote hearing within two business days to determine what funds in the account are from stimulus payments and to allow you to assert any exemptions. But on March 19, 2021, the Court denied a request to extend a similar exemption to stimulus payments issued under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (generally, the payments issued in March 2021 or later).

Getting a protection order or seeking shelter

If you need a protection order, you can file a petition online or get help from an advocate to file online. See our tutorials on e-filing and visit the Protection Order E-filing Service to find advocates near you that can help.

If you need a safe place to go, you can find a shelter through a local advocate. See our list of advocates by county, but call ahead to make sure they are open.

Housing protections

Because courts are open, if a bank or landlord files a case against you to initiate eviction or foreclosure, the court will accept the filing, and you should be notified about the case. Courts are likely to delay those cases in favor of public health, but this may not happen in every instance.

A free program is available to see if an agreement can be reached between you and your landlord before an eviction case is filed, or before the court makes a decision in an ongoing eviction case. The program provides, at no cost to you, a facilitator who is neutral, like a mediator that does not represent either party, to negotiate a settlement. Learn more about the Landlord and Tenant Settlement Conference Program.

To learn about other resources for renters and landlords in Indiana, visit courts.in.gov/housing.

Loved ones in jail or secure detention

Courts and their partners in local governments across the state have been encouraged and authorized to consider the release of low-risk, non-violent inmates from local and county jails. Adults and juveniles who qualify may be released under pretrial, probation, or community supervision. See the April 3 letter signed by leaders of all three branches of government sent to judicial officers statewide.

The Indiana Department of Correction has a website describing their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the DOC Commissioner issued a letter with information for loved ones.

In addition, the Supreme Court has ordered (and extended through August 14) that except in emergencies, Indiana courts will temporarily suspend existing, and will not issue new, writs of attachment, civil bench warrants, or body attachments. By refraining from these actions, the courts can avoid increasing jail populations and/or placing undue financial burdens on individuals during this public health emergency.

Complaining about a lawyer or judge

If you have a complaint against a lawyer, you may file it with the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission by U.S. mail. See the Disciplinary Commission website to download the complaint form and learn more about this process.

If you have a complaint against a judge, you may file it with the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications by U.S. mail or email. See the Judicial Qualifications website to download the complaint form and learn more about the process.