COVID 19 Impact On San Diego Family Law – What YOU need to know
Posted in uncategorized on April 9, 2020
The San Diego County Superior Court Family Law Divisions have been closed, along with all other divisions at our courthouses, to regular business since March 16, 2020. The Family Law courts will remain closed until at least April 30, 2020. No hearings. No access to filing regular business documents. Don’t worry though, the Court is treating all of the closed dates as “court holidays” so you are not missing any filing deadlines. The Court receives over 1,000 pieces of mail each day. None of it is being opened while the Court is closed. The San Diego Superior Court did begin a few in-custody (criminal) matters through video conference on Monday April 6, 2020. The potential first day for opening is May 1st but the Court has indicated that it will request an extension of the closure until May 25, 2020. The dates to re-open may change, depending upon when the spike in COVID-19 cases hits San Diego County.
Can I File a New Case?
No not at this time. What does this mean? It means you do not have access to Court to protect your property or support rights at this time. It means you must pay attention to your finances to ensure your spouse is not moving money or incurring debt without your consent. It also means you need to be very careful around your house to ensure you do nothing to support a claim for domestic violence. As discussed below, the Court is considering DV applications. If an order is entered the party on the wrong side has little recourse until the Court re-opens. This could mean losing access to your children and your property for an extended period of time. Be careful.
OPTION: Retain our office to prepare your initial pleadings, serve your spouse and use these efforts to establish notice and application of the automatic family law restraining orders that protect your property. You need to consider doing this if you do not trust your spouse!
Can I File a Motion to Modify Support Because I Lost My Job?
The answer is NO but on April 19, 2020 the Judicial Council adopted Emergency Rule 13 which provides the court authority to enter an order modifying support back to the date a party seeking a support modification mailed or otherwise served that request on the opposing party. This rule was implemented to ensure that a party who has experienced the loss of a job or whose hours have been reduced as a result of the state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic is able to request an order modifying support be made effective to a date as close as possible to their loss of income.
If you have had a change to your income you need to retain us to prepare a modification motion and mail/serve it on the other side entitling you to retroactive application of a new support amount to be established at a future hearing date.
My Case Is Ongoing – Can It Be Resolved While the Court Is Closed?
YES! Attorneys and clients are meeting remotely every day during the closure via ZOOM meetings. Parties are free to agree their settlements/stipulations are enforceable even though they cannot be filed and signed by a Judicial Officer at this time. These efforts also apply to cases not yet started. You can retain us to get you started even though a Petition cannot be filed at the courthouse.
Beginning April 8, 2020 the Family Law Division at each of our courthouses will begin to consider requests for emergency orders. Specific rules apply: If a request is not a true emergency (child in danger of injury or missing or in a car/plane leaving California) the request will be denied. If the paperwork is overbearing or too much, the requests will be delayed or denied. If your papers pass initial scrutiny, your request will either be granted, denied or scheduled for a telephonic hearing. All notice requirements apply to these requests and the opposing party may file pleadings opposing the request.
What About My Hearing Scheduled Between March 16, 2020 and April 30, 2020?
Your hearing will be rescheduled. New dates are unknown. Since the Court closed more than 40,000 cases were not heard and need to be rescheduled. Rescheduling has to give priority to DV TRO hearings and criminal hearings. We believe you should expect to wait several months for a new hearing date for matters not eligible for priority. If you don’t want to wait, you need to consider dispute resolution alternatives such as mediation or hiring a private judge to hear your matter. We can explain these options in more detail if you give us a call.
What About My Temporary DV Tro Set for Hearing Between March 17, 2020 and April 30, 2020?
Any temporary restraining order or gun violence emergency protective order, issued or set to expire during the state of emergency, must be continued for a period of time that the court determines is sufficient to allow for a hearing on the long-term order to occur, for up to 90 days. For all such cases, the Court will be issuing orders continuing existing orders and assigning a new hearing date.
What About My Temporary DV TRO Set for Hearing Between March 17, 2020 and April 30, 2020?
Any temporary restraining order or gun violence emergency protective order, issued or set to expire during the state of emergency, must be continued for a period of time that the court determines is sufficient to allow for a hearing on the long-term order to occur, for up to 90 days. For all such cases, the Court will be issuing orders that existing orders remain in force and assigning a new hearing date.
What About My DVRO (Long Term) That Expires Before April 30, 2020?
Any restraining order or protective order after hearing that is set to expire during the state of emergency will be extended upon request until a hearing on the matter, for up to 90 days. If you are seeking to extend a long-term restraining order you should retain our office to assist you with the process.
What About My Hearing Scheduled for the Week of May 4-8, or the first week the Court re-opens?
You should check the court calendar before going to court. Your hearing, unless it is a DV TRO hearing, will likely be rescheduled. The Court closure presents many issues to anyone involved in a family law case or in need of being involved in a family law case. Please call or submit our online form to contact our Solana Beach family attorneys for a free 30 minute consultation.