FAQ : Frequently Asked Questions

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Business During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Yes, and at the same phone number of 619-515-9900, 24 hours a day. The principal email of acookjd@earthlink.net is also the same. You may also reach our paralegal, Char Baaske, at cbaaske__acookjd@earthlink.net. We are available to answer your questions, accept new clients, continue work for existing clients; draft pleadings; conduct discovery; and negotiate a settlement to your case that may be satisfactory to both sides. Documents can be scanned to us and we can scan documents to you as well.

The Covid-19 crisis in San Diego has affected the local divorce courts, but management says things will be back to normal after April 30, 2020. Even now, the courts are open for emergency matters like domestic violence restraining orders and other family law emergencies. And family law matters are being given priority over jury trials that are part of criminal and regular civil cases.

At the Law Offices of Andy Cook, we never stop working. It’s been that way since we opened our doors on May 8, 1995, almost 25 years ago.

You can, but when the courts are back at full strength, all the paperwork that was written up during the closure and was yet to be filed when operations resumed, will have to be processed so you will want to get to the front of the line if possible by submitting the paperwork via email if possible or through a drop box or maybe even before the doors of the building are unlocked to the public. The present estimate is Tuesday, the 26th, with filings to start being accepted by the court staff at some point before the actual “reopening” on the 26th. The filings would have to include requests for hearings that are required in your case to address things like support and custody. These hearings will be much later than they otherwise would be. There’s not much we can do about that, but it is better to have a short delay than a longer delay. In addition, the preparation for divorce filings (or even for post-judgment modification filings) is usually interrupted by the need to attend to hearings involving other cases. With few cases being heard now (other than dire emergency matters which have continued during the closure), we can get your paperwork done all at once, including your preliminary declaration of disclosure, so that the moment the judges are back up and running (an interesting visual thought), a case number can be assigned and any required hearings can be set.

Don’t be mistaken. A divorce (or paternity) case can be started very quickly under normal circumstances, especially if there’s a need for emergency relief or for some other tactical reason. But the reality is, to get divorced in California, you need to assemble documents, check balances in accounts, and accurately and truthfully fill out forms. If you get your paperwork done before now rather than later, and if you take the time necessary to avoid mistakes, you will be grateful when the local courts are at full strength and dealing with many cases.

No. With modern technology, if you have a phone, you can get started. Original signatures on certain documents, like those that start a case, are not required, and even if they were, the United States Postal Service is still available.

That’s fine. We still have free initial consultations and, as is the case during normal times, many people prefer to do those over the phone anyway. Teleconferencing can be arranged as well.

The Judicial Council of California, headed by the State’s chief justice, has adopted a rule as of April 20, 2020, that allows a party to serve such a motion even without filing it at the same time and still be able to have any new order be effective on the date the service was done.  In other words, if your hearing does not take place for months, the judge can still reach back and say that support is deemed to have been lowered way back at the time of service.  There are limitations, however.  First, the new rule appears to only apply to motions to modify or terminate support, not requests to impose support in the first instance.  Second, absent further rule making, this unique provision expires 90 days after the Governor says that the emergency order he made on March 19, 2020, is over.  Third, under this unique provision, once the trial court is open and/or is accepting papers for filing and the paperwork is indeed filed, the paperwork (which will then have a hearing date on it) has to be served again on the other side.  Finally, if the backlog in cases takes so long to resolve, a person who has suffered a loss in income may find herself or himself having recovered financially, through rehiring or finding a new line of work.  On the other hand, you have nothing to lose by serving and later filing the motion just to preserve your rights and see what happens.

The Family Law Division of the San Diego County Superior Court has been closed since March 17, 2020, with the exception of emergency applications for domestic violence restraining orders (and limited other emergencies involving children).  However, the Court will be entering a gradual reopening process beginning Tuesday, May 26, 2020, which is the day after Memorial Day.  You won’t be able to see a judge then, but for the first time since St. Patrick’s Day, you will be able to file court papers, including papers to start a divorce case, and to get a date for a hearing which will be held sometime later this year.  For more information, click https://divorcesd.com/san-diego-divorce-court-to-reopen-tuesday-the-26th/.