UPDATED – September 1, 2021 @ 4:00pm
- Orange County Family Law Courts are still closed to the public, except for ex partes, which are now being done in-person at the courthouse. All other hearings are still occurring remotely, on platforms such as Zoom and Webex. Each particular family law department has its own rules and protocols regarding the conduct of these remote hearings, and as to the protocols for submitting documents for a hearing.
- Backlog: The numbers I had included last year are outdated. I do know that the court is still very much impacted by the pandemic and has yet to “catch up” to completely address the backlog. For example, pre-COVID, Judgments were processed in a matter of two weeks or less, assuming you submitted the correct paperwork. Now, during the pandemic, Judgments are taking anywhere from 8-12 weeks in some cases. It is now taking several weeks to open a new family law case, whereas prior to the pandemic, it was a day or two.
- Remote Hearings: While a family law litigant is still able to have a “hearing,” the remote hearings are quite limited in time and scope. In recent court appearances, the Judges have indicated a maximum of an hour or two for most Requests for Order. This strict time limitation severely curtails a litigant’s ability to fully present his or her “case” to the Judge in a manner they may otherwise would have preferred.
- Parenting: See latest Administrative Order No. 003, dated June 30, 2021, that addresses an issue that has arisen during the pandemic. COVID is not a reason to deny parenting time to the other parent.
- Court VSC Program: The Court is still offering the free VSC program that it implemented in response to the pandemic. Retired judges and family law lawyers volunteer their time to help move the cases to resolution. Whether this or other programs are utilized, the Court continues to urge all family law litigants to try to resolve their matters without the need for court intervention, which continues to be impacted by the pandemic.
- Income question: The Court still adheres to the principles set forth in IRMO Riddle (2004) 125 Cal.App.4th That case states that most recent 12 months is presumed to be an appropriate period in most cases. However, a longer or different sample period may be appropriate in some cases. The bottom line is that the period must be a “representative period” of what the income will be “in the immediate future”.