With the outbreak of covid 19, many aspects of our lives have changed significantly. We social distance ourselves and have shut down most social gathering places, from schools to entertainment events to salons and gyms. Even the family court system has shut down with the exception of emergency orders.
Now, however, effective May 18, 2020, the family court will allow parents seeking to negotiate and resolve child custody and visitation issues without going to court.
“…Effective May 18, an attorney, or a parent who is self-represented or represented by an attorney, may initiate a negotiation invitation through the [Online Dispute Resolution] program. The other party will then receive an email invite to participate. The other parent or attorney then has the option to provide a response. Once the parents agree on a plan, the ODR tool will generate a Parenting Plan Agreement, which the parents may file with the Court via fax, U.S. mail or drop box outside the courthouse. If accepted, the plan becomes the order of the court.”
According to Presiding Judge Kevin C Brazile, “…This new online tool is another way the Court is continuing to offer convenient, safe ways to help Los Angeles County residents access justice from anywhere, which helps to promote social distancing in our courthouses. Over the past six years, the Court has prioritized and developed technology innovations to integrate online tools for convenient, modern access to justice. Those improvements have provided the framework for the Court to quickly expand technology improvements during this pandemic.”
The ODR program will be accessible later this month at this link: http://www.lacourt.org/division/familylaw/familylaw.aspx.
If the parties are cannot resolve all child custody/visitation issues, they will be required to attend a Family Court Services mediation appointment in-person at a future date.