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COVID-19 and the Orange County Family Courts

COVID-19 and the Orange County Family Courts
 
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The novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has resulted in a great deal of confusion and delay in the Orange County Family Courts. This is still a developing situation, and so definitive answers are few and far between.

What we can say is that from March 23, 2020 to June 1, 2020, all non-emergency Family Law trials, hearings and proceedings had been suspended. Anything scheduled to be heard during that period had been set for a Status Conference to be heard after June 1, 2020. Domestic Violence Temporary Restraining Orders and Ex Parte Requests may be heard during this period of time, but full hearings on those matters will be set after June 1, 2020.

What this means is that emergency temporary orders may be granted by the Courts during this time. You are limited to your pleadings and will not be able to appear in the Court during this time. All Domestic Violence Restraining Order notices must also state that written responses or oppositions can be submitted to the Court through electronic filing or by contacting the court at efiling@occourts.org or by phone at 657-622-6504.

Further, it appears that the Family Law Section may be losing several judges to the Criminal Courts and that Judges in North Court, West Court and Harbor Court may be losing their physical courtrooms. However, also for the foreseeable future, it appears that physical appearances in courtrooms may be prohibited as well. All court appearances may be done remotely, either via the Courtcall telephone system or through some form of video-conferencing program such as Webex.

Though there are no firm, definitive answers, it is fair to say that for the near-future the Family Law Courts will be overworked and time before the Courts limited. We will all have to consider strategies for how to best resolve your case under these new circumstances.

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