As you know, the Coronavirus pandemic has turned normal life upside down, and our court system has not been immune to this. On March 17, 2020, the Presiding Judge of the San Diego Superior Court closed all courthouses and courtrooms to the public, except for “time-sensitive, essential functions.” Since March 17, 2020, the court has released numerous updates regarding the Court and their operation.
On April 30, 2020, the Court extended the court closure until May 22, 2020, with a reopening date of May 26, 2020. Once the Court reopens, there will surely be additional guidance regarding the new safety measures that will be implemented to enter the courthouses.
Through May 22, 2020, access to any and all San Diego Superior courthouses shall be authorized and restricted per San Diego Superior Court General Order No. 043020-47, as follows:
- Through May 22, 2020, access to any and all courthouses, courtrooms, business offices, and public areas shall be restricted at all times to judges, commissioners, court staff, persons seeking services authorized by the court, persons required to appear for scheduled hearings, and authorized personnel;
- Through May 22, 2020, access to any and all court proceedings, including, but not limited to, arraignments, preliminary hearings, and ex partes, shall be limited to parties, their attorneys, witnesses subpoenaed to testify or statutorily permitted to attend, and other authorized persons;
- The term “authorized persons” in paragraphs 1 and 2 above includes, but is not limited to, news reporters and news media representatives subject to prior approval pursuant to the procedures outlined in the California Rules of Court, the San Diego Superior Court Rules, San Diego Superior Court General Order of the Presiding Department, Order No. 010120-02, or any other application rule, order, or policy;
- This order does not restrict or otherwise abrogate the express and inherent authority of the Court and its judge to provide for the orderly conduct of proceedings, including the decision to permit or deny access to any courtroom or hallways adjacent to courtrooms;
- Social distancing of at least six (6) feet shall be enforced in all courthouses, courtrooms, business offices, and public areas to the extent possible.
However, despite the Court’s closure, some family court services are still currently available.
Family Law Services That Are Available in the San Diego Superior Court During COVID-19
- Initial ex parte requests for domestic violence temporary restraining orders.
- Requests to renew restraining orders that are expiring.
- Ex parte requests for emergency orders for all types of Family matters.
- Emergency surrogacy order requests.
Additional Guidance from the Court
- If you have a court date (trial or other hearing) that is between March 17, 2020 and May 22, 2020, the hearing will be rescheduled and notice of the nearing hearing dates will be mailed out. The Court requests you do not physically go to the court to get more information. If you have an attorney, reach out to your attorney. If you do not, please refer to the Court’s website (www.sdcourt.ca.gov) for up-to-date information.
- The San Diego Superior Court has suspended the acceptance of paper and e-File documents in the Family Law Business Office. The exception to this are paper filings related to the hearing types listed above. Filings that were submitted prior to the Court’s closure will be honored for the date they were received. Any items received after the closure will be honored for the date the Court reopens
- All dates from March 17, 2020 to April 30, 2020, inclusive, have been deemed holidays for purposes of computing time for filing papers under Code of Civil Procedure §§ 12 and 12a.
- All dates from March 17, 2020 to April 30, 2020, inclusive, have been deemed holidays for purposes of computing time under Code of Civil Procedure § 1167 (five (5) day period within which defendant must respond to a complain in an unlawful detainer action).
- Any restraining order after hearing that is set to expire during the state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic is automatically extended for 90 days from the date of expiration to enable a protected party to seek renewal of the restraining order.
Please visit the San Diego Superior Court website for the most up to date information regarding the court.
Each family law case is different and has its own unique facts and circumstances. There are additional, special procedures that must be followed for family law services available during the Court’s closure. If you need assistance with family law services during the Court’s closure, speak to an experienced family attorney about your rights during the Coronavirus pandemic. The experienced family law attorneys at Garmo & Garmo, LLP are staying informed about the latest updates from the San Diego Superior Court and are familiar with the Court’s temporary procedures. If you have questions about your specific case, please contact our office at (619) 441-2500 or send us a message.