In the wake of COVID-19 courts across the US shut down, presenting individuals with ongoing legal cases with an unexpected obstacle.
While many courts still offered remote hearings via video conferencing tools like Microsoft Teams and Zoom, the vast majority of individuals with open civil litigations found their cases indefinitely rescheduled as courts scrambled to keep up with essential and emergency hearings.
As of May 26, San Diego courts are resuming their services. However, courts are still closed to the public for in-person hearings. Instead, courts will start using Microsoft Teams to set up remote hearings.
Can I Go to Court in San Diego?
If you must go to the courthouse to file or request documents (such as temporary restraining orders or other files relevant to an ongoing case), you must wear a mask. The San Diego Courthouses will have triage teams and clerks at or near the front door allowing people to drop off documents or request documents. The triage team may take your temperature to help ensure you are not at risk for COVID-19.
If you have a current family law case or criminal case pending and you need to know your rescheduled court date or request a new hearing date for your case, follow these instructions:
- Email one of the two following email addresses:
- In the subject line of the email, write your case number.
- In the body of the email, write the name of your case, the date on which your hearing was supposed to occur (if it was rescheduled due to COVID-19), and the new date you're requesting. It should look something like this:
I just want to confirm that this case Fam case #19FL... for Johnson versus Johnson, an RFO scheduled for June 1, 2020, will be rescheduled to another date.
Is that correct? What is the new date?"
- After sending your email, the court should email you a response that looks something like this:
"Our records show the RFO scheduled for 6/01/20 has been rescheduled for 7/28/20 at 1:45 p.m. in Dept. E-08. You will receive a notice of this new hearing by mail.
If you're interested in learning a little more about how San Diego courts are handling the re-opening, I recently had a chat with several San Diego judges, which I posted a short YouTube video about. You can watch it by clicking on this link.
If you want to learn more about how San Diego courts are handling COVID-19 and helping individuals tackle their cases, you can follow this link.
The Superior Court of California also recently posted a FAQ about how San Diego courts are handling family law cases, which you can find here.
If you don't want to read the whole FAQ, here are a few of the items I think are important:
- Courts still provide limited in-person services for emergency cases, such as requests to file a new restraining order or extend the duration of an already existing one. The court will hear non-emergency cases remotely.
- Restraining order hearings set on or after June 8, 2020, will proceed as scheduled. Other non-emergency cases may be rescheduled depending on the workload of the court.
- During this time, child custody arrangements are still legally binding. If you violate the terms of your child custody order, you may be subject to legal penalties. If you wish to modify your child custody order, you should either work with your child's other parent to do so or consult a family lawyer to pursue a custody order modification.
- If you have supervised time with your child, you should take a look at this cheat sheet to visit your child safely and understand what alternative visitation methods (such as virtual visitation) you can use to keep you and your child safe.
- If a loss in income due to COVID-19 makes you unable to comply with your spousal support or child custody arrangement, you should consult a family lawyer and begin filing an order modification.
- If you need copies of a legal document, you can drop off a request at your local courthouse. The court will mail your files to you.
- If you miss parenting time due to COVID-19, you should consult with the judicial officer at your court to see if you can make up for lost parenting time.
- The court encourages parents to work together to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, including arranging a new parenting schedule that takes into account factors such as at-home learning (many students are receiving education virtually since schools are closed), how work-at-home arrangements affect the parenting situation, what safety precautions to take, etc.
At this time, The Law Offices of Andrea Schneider remains open to San Diego residents. You can reach me by filling out my contact form online, calling my office at (619) 304-8499, or emailing me at AndreaAttorney@gmail.com. I can answer your questions about how COVID-19 affects your case and help you develop a strategy to tackle your case with confidence.
Stay healthy and safe.