On April 24th, Honorable Judge Michael Carrozzo, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Presiding Judge, issued a General Order re: Implementation of Emergency Relief. All family law hearings on the calendar between April 24, 2020, through May 23, 2020, will be rescheduled and the court will issue a notice of the new hearing dates.
Throughout the court closure, the courts are operating limited services with limited staffing. 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.
Judge Carrozzo’s county-wide family law orders and guidelines issued on April 7th may help alleviate some issues relating to child custody and visitation during the pandemic.
Most notable of Judge Carrozzo's orders are the following:
1. School closures for public health purposes will not be considered an extension of any break or vacation holiday period or weekend.
2. Unless otherwise ordered, COVID-19 is not a reason to deny parenting time. Parents are encouraged to follow state and local directives regarding social distancing and sanitation-related measures, such as frequent hand washing.
3. Governor Newsom issued executive orders that restrict air travel except for essential activities. For parenting time that requires travel, unless modified by anther executive order or order of the court, parties should make other arrangements for contact, such as driving the children or scheduling video or phone visits.
4. Unless restricted by a restraining order, parents are encouraged to communicate with each other about the children and about the precautions they are taking to limit their exposure and the exposure of the children to COVID-19.
5. A parent cannot deny parenting time based on the other parent’s unwillingness to discuss their precautionary and preventative measures taken to reduce exposure to COVID-19 or the belief that the other parent’s precautions are insufficient.
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.