North Carolina Attorney Says Rural Areas Hurt by Shift to ‘Zoom Divorces’ During Pandemic


Dustin McCrary says slow internet makes virtual court difficult

North Carolina attorney  Dustin McCrary says the shift to virtual courtrooms during the coronavirus pandemic has hurt divorcing couples who live in rural areas without access to high-speed internet.

Due to concerns over spreading the virus, most courtrooms have been closed down, with divorce hearings and mediations being done through online streaming, leading to the so-called “Zoom divorces.” But he said these are difficult, if not impossible, for some rural residents.

“I have friends that can’t even stream Netflix because of slow internet speeds,” he said. “Imagine trying to get everyone online for a court hearing without high-speed internet.”

As many as 15 percent of Americans don’t have access to high-speed broadband internet, according to a 2020 report from the Federal Communications Commission, with rural areas particularly struggling.

Still, McCrary said that virtual courtrooms have been helpful, since attorneys and clients for both sides don’t have to be in the same place at the same time, making them more efficient. He predicts that online videoconferencing will continue to be used for some hearings even after the pandemic subsides, and some of the kinks will be worked out.

“Once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty much the same as a regular hearing,” he said. “I did have a client who wore a coat and tie for his hearing and didn’t realize that when he stood up we could all see he was wearing shorts.”

About the Law Office of Dustin S. McCrary, PLLC

Founded in 2012, the Law Office of Dustin S. McCrary, PLLC is based in Statesville, N.C., with offices throughout the Piedmont, including Mooresville, Hickory and Lenoir. Dustin focuses his practice on the legal needs of divorce and separation serving his clients in all aspects of the process including separation, child custody, child support, alimony and spousal support, property distribution and domestic violence. His hope is to be able to guide each and every person and their children through divorce with safety and security. To learn more, visit

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