On March 18, 2020, the presiding judge of the San Diego Superior Court issued an order suspending court services for all but a handful of proceedings deemed to be time-sensitive and essential functions. From March 17th through April 3rd, the court determined that those days would be considered court holidays for purposes of computing time for statutory and court rules. The presiding judge’s order meant that all hearings and family court counseling and Family Court Services mediations scheduled through April 3, 2020 would be continued until after the courts lifted the suspension of services. Until the suspension of court services ends, one judge at each San Diego County court would be available each work-day to consider Domestic Violence Temporary Restraining Order filings, which were the only family law matters continuing to be heard until at least Monday, April 6, 2020.
What can Cage & Miles do to continue moving your family law case forward during the court’s suspension of services?
Regarding custody/visitation, If parties have already attended FCS and received a recommendation, the parties may agree to follow those recommendations and/or agree to modifications of the FCS recommendations.
If parties have not yet attended FCS mediation, parties can obtain private mediators and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) specialists to assist in their case. Mediation and ADR are alternatives to court hearings, and they help parties come to settlements and agreements, to forego needing to go to court. Mediators and ADR specialists can only make agreements until courts open for orders to be entered. Once parties have those recommendations, parties can then stipulate to those recommendations and/or stipulate to modification of those recommendations.
If parties already have support and visitation court orders in place, this is important - a court order must be followed by the parties. There are remedies and penalties if a party willfully disobeys a court order. Unless there is a true, justifiable reason to not follow the court order, the period of time that the court’s services are suspended is not the time for a parent to stop paying support or deny visitation.
If parties had support and visitation hearings on the court calendar before the suspension of services went into effect, those hearings are pending and will be heard at a later date. Until the hearing, we can reach out to the opposing attorney or party and seek to settle the subject matter of the scheduled hearing. Parties may have new reasons to settle pending hearings or the entire case because of the public measures related to Coronavirus.
Many law firms have greatly reduced work capacity and activity due to the courts suspending services, sometimes up to 60 days. However, Cage & Miles has used technology to stay up and running and as busy as ever trying to get clients’ family law matters resolved. We are also busy preparing our clients cases for when the courts open so their hearings get scheduled at the earliest possible date and time. Call our office for further information about how we can help you move your case forward.