For over a month, the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically impacted various aspects of human society, including the day-to-day operations of the government, as well as the daily life of individuals and their families. This includes institutions for justice and marriage. During times of crisis like this, everyone is striving to preserve important aspects of life using whatever means necessary.
We at Moshtael Family Law continue to strive to represent our clients’ needs with the goal of protecting their legal interests in matters related to California family law. Our legal team remains dedicated to pursuing justice by providing legal services for family law matters involving divorce, child custody, modifications, and relocations.
We continue offering case consultations remotely, exploring your legal options at an affordable cost. For no charge, you can speak with our intake specialist about your case.
After that, one of our experienced attorneys will speak with you by phone or through video chat about a plan of action for dealing with your case. If you decide to move forward from there, our dedicated team will handle developing your case while you practice social distancing. A major benefit of this process is that your case can be entirely handled remotely by phone, video chat, and e-filing.
Since the California government issued mandatory stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of COVID-19, many public services have been scaled down as a result. This includes public, in-person access to courts.
E-filing has been a tool that courts have used for several years, even before the Coronavirus outbreak. Before e-filing, people and their attorneys had to come to court in person and physically hand in court pleadings and other important documents, such as supporting briefs for motions. To an extent, people could use facsimile to file such documents as well.
However, e-filing allows people to meet filing requirements from the comfort of their own homes or offices. The Superior Court of California, County of Orange uses the Odyssey eFileCA system for family law cases, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
To help make sure that justice continues to be carried out while respecting public health precautions, the California Supreme Court, the following documents are required to be filed using California’s e-filing system, among others:
- “Petitions for review; answers, replies;
- Applications to permit the filing of a petition, answer, reply, or attachment that exceeds the length limits set by California Rules of Court, rule 8.504(d);
- Applications to extend the time to file an answer or reply;
- Motions for relief from default for failure to timely file a petition, answer, or reply;
- All other applications and motions in these proceedings filed before the court issues its decision to grant or deny review; and
- Any correspondence filed in connection with the documents in (A) – (E).
- Amicus curiae letters under California Rules of Court, rule 8.500(g) and requests for depublication and related documents under California Rules of Court, rule 8.1125. may be filed electronically on a voluntary basis.”
These rules also apply to filings in cases arising under California family law, including divorce matters. When a petition for dissolution of marriage is filed, subsequent filings—including the opposing party’s “answer” or other responsive pleadings—must be completed within a specific time.
When a petition, pleading, or other required filing is submitted through e-filing, the court clerk places an electronic timestamp on the filed documents that correlates to when the document was received. The court treats the document as filed as of the date shown on such a timestamp.
California Code of Civil Procedure § 1010.6 governs the service and filing of documents through e-filing, including the following rules:
- “Any document that is served electronically between 12:00 a.m. and 11:59:59 p.m. on a court day shall be deemed served on that court day. Any document that is served electronically on a noncourt day shall be deemed served on the next court day.”
- “Any document received electronically by the court between 12:00 a.m. and 11:59:59 p.m. on a court day shall be deemed filed on that court day. Any document that is received electronically on a noncourt day shall be deemed filed on the next court day.”
Pursuant to Local Rule 700.7 for the Superior Court of California, Orange County, “Electronically filed documents filed prior to midnight on a court day will be deemed filed as of that day…For purposes of this Rule, filing occurs at the time the document is received by the court and a confirmation of receipt is created.”
The rules for e-filing are important to help ensure that California courts may continue facilitating legal matters such as family law cases despite the reduction in court operations. As a result, it is vital that you consult an experienced attorney who is familiar with California’s e-filing process.
Recently, the Judicial Council also circulated an order requiring attorneys to electronically service and receive notice in family law cases when a party requests electronic service. This order is said to remain in effect until 90 days after the Governor lifts the COVID-19 stay at home order, or the council amends or repeals the order.
Generally, serving notice may already be conducted via electronic means. However, the partes must consent to electronic service for it to be valid, unless the court has ordered it. Withholding consent during this crisis can be used as delay tactic, requiring notice to be served using conventional mail.
For more information on this order, visit the Judicial Council website here.
Reach out to Moshtael Family Law for More Information
You should not have to worry about securing your legal rights while adhering to the mandatory health precautions the government has imposed to counter the spread of Coronavirus. If you are concerned about your legal rights during this time of crisis, it is in your best interest to discuss your case licensed attorney who is familiar with the laws and procedural rules relevant to family law cases.
At Moshtael Family Law, we provide affordable legal solutions to your family law matters. We understand the financial pressure that COVID-19 places on everyone. That is why offer payment plans for our services to make sure every cent you invest in you and your family’s lives is well spent for your future.
To learn more, contact Moshtael Family Law at (714) 909-2561 or contact our firm online today.