Updated: Apr 10, 2020
As a result of Governor Newsom’s executive orders issued due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the court system has experienced a multitude of changes and as a result, imposed some limited restrictions and courtroom closures. Honorable Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, Chief Justice of California and Chair of the Judicial Council, and Honorable Judge Kent M. Kellegrew, Ventura County Superior Court Presiding Judge, have issued orders in response to the executive orders and have taken corresponding preventative measures to help slow the spread of the virus.
On April 2, 2020, Honorable Judge Kent. M. Kellegrew issued the Amended Administrative Order re: Implementation of Emergency Relief in Response to COVID-19 (Amendment No. 1), inclusive of prior statewide orders issued by Honorable Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye. Judge Kellegrew’s orders state that as of March 19th and through April 17th, all courtrooms and clerk’s offices will remain closed, except for essential emergency and time-sensitive essential functions. Please check the court’s website for new orders as they’re released.
On April 6, 2020, Honorable JoAnn Johnson, Supervising Family Law Judge, issued Administrative Order No. 20-09: Administrative Order re: Mandatory Guidelines for Custody/Visitation Orders in Response to COVID-19. Most notable in this order are the following points:
1. The existence of the COVID-19 crisis itself is not a sufficient basis for a modification of an existing custody or visitation schedule without specific articulable requests supporting the modification.
2. COVID-19 is not a reason to deny parenting time.
3. During the school closures, the existing school-time custody orders shall remain in effect.
4. If visits are to occur via travel on a common carrier such as an airline, train, or bus, these visits are suspended and shall instead occur via video or telephone call.
5. Unless a restraining order prohibits contact, the parents shall communicate regarding precautionary measures they are taking regarding COVID-19 so that the children shall have the same procedures in both homes.
6. Unreasonable denial of the other parent’s custodial time due to COVID-19 shall be considered in any subsequent modification of custody or visitation.
7. Upon removal of the public health restrictions due to COVID-19, the parties shall immediately return to following the current custodial order if that order has been affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
Due to these orders, all hearings previously set to occur during that time frame will be continued to a date chosen by the court. These closures will cause delays in matters set to be heard both during that time and after, however, most attorneys are still working during the court closures and are working together to reach resolutions to many custody and visitation disputes as they arise. Emergency or ex parte hearings may be held for matters which are truly an emergency—there must be a true, immediate risk to one’s life or safety.
Honorable Judge JoAnn Johnson, has provided guidelines on what is deemed an emergency. Judge Johnson asks that attorneys and parties do not file ex parte or emergency requests, “unless it is truly an emergency relating to the safety or welfare of a child or domestic violence. Inconvenience is not an emergency. Non-cooperation by a parent is not an emergency. Financial issues are not an emergency.”
Although our physical office is closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the attorneys and staff at Law Office of Channe G. Coles are working hard and are here to answer your questions and address any issues you may have. If you have any questions or concerns about your child custody and visitation orders during these trying times, please call our office at (805) 617-4618 or contact us online today to schedule your free consultation.