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What To Know About The Effect of Covid-19 On Orange County Family Law Cases

BREAKING NEWS: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the State of California and Orange County has ordered all family law hearings scheduled between now and June 1, 2020 to be continued to dates beyond June 1st, effective March 23, 2020.  The court will schedule Status Conferences for those cases with pending hearings and “trail” the pending hearings to those Status Conference dates, because the rescheduling of these hearings will have to be done at those Status Conferences, and the court scheduling will be very hectic and difficult as court judges will have to prioritize hearings, giving priority to restraining order and custody hearings first, then pressing financial issues such as support, and so on.  This is all very unprecedented and nothing like this has ever happened in the court system.

So if you have an upcoming trial, Request for Order hearing, etc. scheduled between now and June 1, 2020, the Orange County Family Court will automatically be continuing that hearing to sometime in June and possibly into July.  Note that the dates of hearings on the Orange County Superior Court website www.occourts.org may still show the current hearing dates for some time, but that will no longer be accurate to rely on until the Status Conferences are set, at which point the court will automatically continue the other pending hearing(s) to the Status Conference hearing date.  I want to make it clear that just because your hearing was continued to that Status Conference date does NOT mean that your hearing will go forward that day.  It will most certainly not, because the court is basically pushing 2.5 months of hearings out and having to reschedule them and just doing the Status Conferences and getting hearings rescheduled will likely take the month of June and into July for the court system to accomplish. 

The only thing that Orange County family law attorneys can file right now are restraining orders and emergency custody filings.  All of this is being done electronically but even the procedures for doing that have not been fully explained to us.  But it can be assumed that the court is going to be very strict in ordering any emergency custody orders unless there is a clear showing of an imminent threat of physical harm or death if emergency orders were not granted.  In other words, the legal standard will likely be higher than normal and so there has to be a real and legitimate showing of such imminent threat.  I would predict that if someone files for an emergency request that does not meet such standard, it is possible that the court will order monetary sanctions for doing so for essentially wasting the court’s time due to such limited resources of the court right now.

Our office is currently working remotely per the current California “Stay At Home” order, but we will be available by email and our case management system, and we are capable of video conferencing using Zoom, FaceTime, and Skype, as well as by phone for our client and potential new clients needing legal assistance and advice.  In other words, we’re still here for you. 

In the meantime, we hope that you and your family remain safe and healthy in these uncertain times.

Gerald A. Maggio is an experienced Orange County divorce and family law lawyer and family law attorney located in Irvine, California, serving the Orange County and Riverside areas. Mr. Maggio assists clients with legal issues including divorce, legal separation, divorce mediationchild custodyprenuptial agreementsstepparent adoptions, and other family law issues. Mr. Maggio has practiced law in California since 1999, and founded The Maggio Law Firm in 2005, focusing exclusively on divorce and family law matters. His firm can be reached by email to [email protected] and by phone at (949) 553-0304 and on the web at www.maggiolawfirm.com.

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