COVID-19 Court Information

Family

In an effort to protect the public and court staff, the court will be enforcing social distancing and limiting the number of people allowed into courthouses. Face masks are required. All entrants into the courthouse will be asked screening questions and their temperatures will be checked.

The court strongly encourages appearances to be made remotely via telephone or remote video appearance. Notices will be sent to each party providing information for connecting remotely. To avoid difficulties in connecting remotely, in advance of the hearing, follow instructions provided in the Notice sent by the court advising to test your remote appearance in advance. The following links may also provide assistance.

Tutorial Video
ZOOM FAQ

All courtrooms will remain open unless the hearing is confidential. To alleviate court congestion, cases may be continued in the court’s discretion in appropriate circumstances, such as where updating declarations are not timely filed in advance as required by Monterey Superior Court, Local Court Rule 10.1; where parties have not met and conferred in advance of settlement conferences; and/or where parties fail to timely file settlement conference statements. Should your case be continued by the court, you should receive notice of your new date in the mail. You should also check the website for new dates. Cases currently set on calendar are being reviewed prior to any continuance.

Filings will continue to be accepted electronically via e-file. If you are unable to file documents electronically you may file by mail, by using the drop box, or in person at any courthouse location.

As always, the court encourages all parties to meet and confer on all issues. If all parties agree in writing, you may request that the court rule on your filed noticed motion without a hearing on the Thursday and Friday’s Request for Order calendars. All interested parties will be required to waive the hearing in writing by submitting a stipulation. After the stipulation is processed, the court will determine whether the filed motion is appropriate for ruling without a hearing.

Q: How do I file a request for a restraining order?

A: We suggest that all legal documents be filed electronically. You may select an E-File service provider of your choice, many of whom are listed on our web site at this link. There you will find useful instructions as well as at File @ Home. Persons who are unable to file documents electronically may file by mail, by using the drop box, or in person at any courthouse location. The mailing address is: Monterey County Superior Court, Clerk’s Office, 1200 Aguajito Road, Monterey, CA 93940. Drop boxes are located in the front of both the Salinas and the Monterey Court houses.

For restraining orders, the following link may be of assistance to you: File @ Home

Q: How do I file legal documents if I have no access to electronic filing?

A: If it is impossible for you to file documents electronically, mail, Court drop off or in person at any court location are the alternatives. Persons who are unable to file documents electronically may file by mail, or by using the drop box at any courthouse location. The mailing address is: Monterey County Superior Court, Clerk’s Office, 1200 Aguajito Road, Monterey, CA 93940. Drop Boxes are located in the front of both the Salinas and the Monterey Court houses.

Q: How do I file other family law documents?

A: If you need to complete legal paperwork, you can get forms and information at http://www.courts.ca.gov

You can also use a free program to assist you in completing forms (and also help you efile the forms) at File at Home

Q: HOW DO I SCHEDULE MEDIATION OR CHILD CUSTODY RECOMMENDING COUNSELING (CCRC) FOR CHILD CUSTODY AND VISITATION?

A: New appointments will only be set with a court order, and only for MEDIATION unless CCRC is specifically referred by the judicial officer.

Family Court Services (FCS) is in the process of rescheduling previously cancelled appointments.

For questions about your appointment or if you have been instructed/ordered to set an appointment, contact FCS by email: FCS@MONTEREY.COURTS.CA.GOV.

In your email, include the case number(s), each parties’ full name, and all contact information (mailing address, cell phone number, email address, etc.) for each party.

Please see the FCS Page for further information about their limited services and availability at this time.

To obtain a court order to attend FCS Mediation, please contact the Self Help Center or speak to an attorney.

Q: If my child and/or I must shelter in place, how do I comply with child custody and visitation orders?

A: Unfortunately, that is a legal question as to whether your situation involves an exception to shelter in place orders issued by the County or State. Since the Court is prohibited from giving legal advice, you may wish to seek legal advice or contact the authority issuing the shelter in place order for guidance.

However, the Court always encourages parties to meet and confer in an attempt to resolve areas of potential dispute. (If there is no court order restraining contact). The best interests of children should be paramount in this public health crisis and we encourage all to try to reach agreement, if you can, on any modifications of visitation plans needed to ensure the safety of children and their parents in compliance with shelter in place orders.

  • If an agreement is reached, written stipulations can be filed and submitted to the Court for approval.
  • If an agreement cannot be reached, parties may file a Request for Order asking the Court to modify custody and visitation plans.

Q: Visitation with my child must be supervised by a professional supervisor, and I was notified by the supervisor they were unable to provide supervision due to the shelter in place orders. What should I do?

A: As in the answer to the preceding question, you may wish to seek legal advice which we cannot give.

It is up to each provider to evaluate whether they can provide services that are safe to the child and parties. Some providers have decided they are unable to safely provide these services in this crisis. Others have determined they can safely provide services in their situation. Again, as in the preceding question, parties are encouraged to meet and confer if no order prevents that. Possible agreements include:


FURTHER QUESTIONS:

The Court’s Self Help Center staff will be operating remotely, by telephone and email, during our closure period. Please email questions to selfhelpcenter@monterey.courts.ca.gov, or call 831-647-5800, X3005. Self Help Center staff will also be operating on reduced hours and staff, so it may take a few days for someone to get back to you.


Department of Child Support Matters:

Some matters on the Department of Child Support Services calendar have been continued to a new date. The Department of Child Support Services will mail notices to parties notifying of the future date. Many hearings are proceeding as scheduled. Some hearings may be heard remotely by Court Call and/or remote video or phone appearances as determined by the court.


Guidelines for Parents Sharing Custody/Visitation of Children During the Covid-19 Pandemic

From Family Court Services of the Superior Court of The State of California, County of Monterey

The COVID19 pandemic has significantly affected many people’s day-to-day lives. Children are no exception: children must stay inside, are unable to go to school or day care, and cannot have contact with friends and extended family due to the “shelter-in-place” orders.

Children deserve to have consistency and stability during this difficult time. For that reason, we encourage parents to follow their existing parenting plan as closely as possible during this time.

Below, we give parents general guidelines to ensure that children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents, as is California policy. These guidelines are not meant as legal advice and do not apply to every situation. The health, safety and welfare of children is the primary goal of any parenting plan.

We urge you to work cooperatively to ensure the safety of your children! If you and your children’s other parent cannot resolve your disagreements, the Family Court is available to decide child custody issues.

General Guidelines for Your Parenting Plan:

  1. Communicate with Each Other

    Unless there are restraining orders that keep parents from communicating, parents should discuss how they are working to reduce the risk of the children being exposed to the COVID-19 virus. In general, a parent cannot deny the other parent their parenting time based on a subjective belief that the other parent is not protecting the children well enough.

  2. Do Not Deny the Other Parent Their Parenting Time

    COVID-19 is not a reason to deny parenting time. Parents are considered fit to care for their children and make the day-to-day parenting decisions, unless a court has decided differently. Day-to-day care includes following orders and recommendations by the State of California and Monterey County Health department, such as social distancing and frequent hand-washing.

  3. Treat Your Timesharing Plan the Same as if Your Children Were Attending School as Usual

    While schools are closed, court-ordered parenting time should continue as if the children are attending school in their regular school district. When interpreting the court-ordered timesharing plan, parents should not treat the school closure as the child’s spring or summer break. It is also not treated as a “weekend” under the timesharing plan.

  4. Make Changes to Your Parenting Time Exchanges if Needed

    During the exchange of children, parties should follow public health directives for limiting the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This may mean choosing a different location with fewer people or fewer risks of contamination from objects or surfaces. (Example: moving the exchange from inside a store or restaurant to the parking lot)

  5. You May Need to Change the Parenting Time in Public Places

    If the parenting time is supposed to take place in a public place that is now closed, such as a park, the parents should try to agree to a different and safe location. If that is not possible, the parenting time should instead take place by video or telephone.

  6. Make Changes, if Needed, to Your Supervised Visitation

    If a parent is ordered to have supervised visitation with a child, and the supervisor is unavailable due to COVID-19 related issues, the parents should work together to make sure that a safe visit can happen. For example, the parents could agree to having a different supervisor for the visits, or allow the visit to take place by video or telephone. For more information about supervised visitation, see the frequently asked questions under the Family tab on the court’s website.

  7. Travel

    Parents who are able to drive the children to the other parent’s home or exchange location should continue to do so. Travel that requires the use of public transportation, including air travel, may require appropriate precautions in order to avoid exposing the child to unnecessary risk. Parents should communicate about necessary precautions.

  8. Options When One Parent Does Not Follow the Court Orders

    If you need to change the existing parenting plan because you and the other parent cannot agree on needed changes, the Family Court offers hearings and child custody mediation by telephone or video. If you have evidence that there is an immediate threat to a child’s health or safety, you may ask the court for emergency orders.

Our first responders (Sheriff, police, fire, EMTs) are providing much needed support for issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and must be available for true emergencies. So please do not call first responders regarding enforcement of child custody orders unless an immediate and significant safety issue is present.