Although the court self help centers are closed, help and further updates are available online at lacourt.org http://lacourt.org and the California courts Self help center https://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp.htm
You can also call us at (562) 598-7486 for a free 15 minute consultation.
First; here is what can be done in court regarding family law cases given the new social distancing requirements
First don’t forget to look at Judge Riff’s statement below. Currently only requests for restraining orders and ex-parte (emergency! requests) will be heard right away by the LA family law courts, at least through June 22, and I suspect, even beyond this date. Even though your matter may not be heard for a long time, it is important to file a pleading. This is because the filing date, most often, is used by the court to set retroactivity of its order. So if you want support to go up or down, you do not want to wait until months have gone by to adjust an order that no longer reflects the economic circumstances of the parties. Otherwise, the court may not be able to help you to cover all the months that you should have been paying less or receiving more – depending on your position.
I don’t mean to imply that you shouldn’t also file a request for custody modification if warranted. It is likely that requests for custody modification will be heard in the order received – so if you are waiting for relative normalcy before filing – you will be behind everyone else.
Below is the latest as of 3/27/20 (I have updated as of 4/24)The Los Angeles County supervising judge of family law issued the guidance to family law attorneys which I have copied on the bottom of the page. Please go to thebeachlaw.com for help in dealing with family law issues brought about by this Corona virus or Covid-19 virus.
Stay healthy, Wash hands, Six feet distance,
Supervising Judge Riff information for LA County Family Law Attorneys
At Judge Brazile’s request, I will try to answer some of the many general process questions put to me privately and also posted on the LACBA list serve.
An overriding point: we all seek clarity and specificity in a time defined by their opposites, not just in court operations but in society overall.
There simply are not clear and specific answers at this time to many of the questions posed. This is because the overall situation is, of course, dynamic and evolving everywhere.
As you know and expect, Judge Brazile and the Work Group have a great deal on their plates as they plan, implement and communicate throughout the five divisions of our court. As banal as it may sound, I must continue to ask for your patience so that when Judge Brazile and I under his direction do communicate, the information is accurate.
Q: Big picture, where are we in the Family Law Division?
A: Our court is closed, including the FL Division, for all court proceedings except for specified time-sensitive, essential functions. In FL those are processing ex-parte applications; processing restraining order applications; conducting hearings on restraining orders; and conducting hearings in Hague convention international kidnapping matters. As you know, the court is strongly encouraging continuances in all hearings matters. And judicial officers may, considering the specifics of each individual case, continue such hearings without an agreement. We do not want people to be in court except as necessary to deal with time-sensitive, essential function matters.
Q: What is the duration of this court closure?
A: Currently, until April 16. (Now June 22)
Q: So on April 17, is it back to business as usual?
A: We all await further instruction from Judge Brazile on that point and be reassured it is a topmost matter for Judge Brazile and the Work Group.
Q: But doesn’t Judge Brazile’s March 23 General Order establish a further closure period to June 22?
A: Many of you read the order that way. Others read it that it suspends certain proceedings such as “civil non-jury trials” “until further notice”. The order does not state whether such further notice may occur before June 22 and I have no insight to share with you at this time on that point. The key point for now is that the court is closed, as described above, until April 16 and that more specificity as applies to family law will be forthcoming.
Q: I received a notice recently continuing a hearing set after April 17 to a later date. Doesn’t that mean that the period of court closure is extended past April 16?
A: No, it does not necessarily mean that. It means a determination was made in that case and in that department that the hearing should be continued in any event.
Q: Why can’t I reach the Judicial Assistant in my home court?
A: Because many home courts are closed and not staffed. Many staff are working remotely. Staff in courthouses are being deployed where needed.
Q: What are key things to know about filing via “drop box”?
A: Filings are dated as of the date the document is placed in the drop box. One can pay with a credit card and there are credit card “slips” available at the drop boxes.
Q: With the clerk’s office closed and access to the courthouses limited to authorized persons, how can I find out about continued dates in confidential parentage cases?
A: Persons calling the clerk’s office general number will, upon advising of a case number in a confidential parentage case, be advised of a continued hearing date.
Q: When “business as usual resumes”, whenever that will be, will RFOs, FCCRCs, trials, MSCs and all other matters proceed in the chronological order of filing or earlier settings?
A: Not necessarily. The job of “ramping up” the division after this ramp-down will be extremely complex and planning and decisions as to how that will proceed have not even begun. At that time, you can count on the my asking you for….patience.