Saturday, April 19, 2014

Court Hearings and Orders

Orders - Requesting Court Orders

After the appropriate type of case has been filed in court, you may proceed with filing the necessary paperwork to obtain orders to establish child custody, visitation and/or support. This is usually done by filing a Request for Order. To request a hearing to establish or modify child custody or visitation, you must complete the following forms:

If you are also asking for child, spousal, or attorney fees, complete the following:

Emergency / Temporary Orders

In family law cases, court orders can be obtained only after the appropriate paperwork is filed, a hearing is scheduled, and notice of the hearing is served on the other party allowing him/her sufficient time to file a response. These hearings occur in open court in front of a judge. In limited situations, where there is an emergency, the judge may grant a Temporary Order to be in effect only until the hearing in open court. A Temporary Order is only issued when irreparable harm will result if an order is not made before the hearing.

Days and times for filing applications for Ex Parte Orders are Monday through Friday, (excluding holidays), 8:30 a.m.

Department Use the last two (2) digits of your case number to determine the department.
120 81, 83, 85, 87, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99
121 05, 15, 25, 35, 45, 55, 65, 75, 06, 16, 26, 36, 46, 56, 66, 76, 86
122 01, 11, 21, 31, 41, 51, 61, 71, 02, 12, 22, 32, 42, 52, 62, 72, 82
123 07, 17, 27, 37, 47, 57, 67, 77, 08, 18, 28, 38, 48, 58, 68, 78, 88
124 09, 19, 29, 39, 49, 59, 69, 79, 00, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80
125 03, 13, 23, 33, 43, 53, 63, 73, 04, 14, 24, 34, 44, 54, 64, 74, 84

Responding to a Request for Order

If you have been served with a Request for Order and a hearing has been scheduled, you may file a Responsive Declaration to help the judge understand what your opinion is on the issues before court. To respond, you must complete the following forms:

File Necessary Forms on Time

Be sure to meet all deadlines for filing any documents needed for your court date. Check with the Self-Help Center or read the Codes and Rules in the Sacramento County Public Law Library - external link if you are not sure what to file with the Court and when. Be aware that all facts and evidence that you wish the judge to consider must be provided to the other party and the Court before the hearing in the form of a written declaration sworn to under penalty of perjury. In addition to your declaration, you may use the declarations of other adults.

Telephone Appearances for Family Law Cases

Telephone Appearance requests for non-evidentiary hearings on the court's law and motion calendars for Departments 120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 125, and 132 (domestic violence hearings only) can be made by filing a Request for Telephone Appearance form with the clerk in the department.

Telephone appearance requests must be submitted at least 10 court days before the hearing. Service must be completed on the other parties, and attorneys, if any. Service must be by personal delivery, fax, express mail, or other means reasonably calculated to ensure delivery by the close of the next court day. Proof of Service must be filed with the Court prior to the hearing.

Prepare to Speak to the Judge in Court

You need to organize your thoughts about the issues to be handled on your court date. Think about what you want to say. Make some notes to help you remember the main points. Gather documents that may help you remember things that are important. You should be prepared to tell the judge what the issues are, what solution you think is best, and why. Be sure to focus on the issues that are the reason your court date was scheduled. The judge cannot address issues that are not identified in the original paperwork filed to request the hearing. If you have other problems to resolve, you can schedule a separate hearing for that purpose.

Try to Negotiate an Agreement

Contact the other party prior to your court date to try to resolve the issues, unless there is a Restraining Order between you and the other party. You may be asked to negotiate outside the courtroom before your hearing if you have not done so prior to arrival. Depending on when your hearing is scheduled, you may be given the option of working with a volunteer mediator who can assist you and the other party in reaching an agreement. The hearing will go forward if an agreement is not reached in mediation.

If you need help resolving custody and visitation issues, the court has a special mediation program called Family Court Services. This mediation program helps parents reach custody and visitation agreements that respond to the special circumstances of each case. If an agreement is reached in mediation, the mediator will assist you in preparing the agreement and submitting it to the Court for approval. If there are no other issues to be decided, reaching an agreement on custody and visitation will result in your court date being dropped. If an agreement cannot be worked out in mediation, Family Court Services will recommend to the judge a plan that serves the child’s best interests. All parents are required to participate in mediation prior to their first court appearance.

Arrange Child Care

Make child care arrangements for your minor children. Children are not permitted in the courtroom. If you must bring your children with you to court, there may be space available in the Children’s Waiting Room for children ages 1-12 years. There is no charge for the waiting room while you conduct your business at the courthouse, but the waiting room may be full, so it is smart to bring someone with you to watch your children if you must bring them to court.

Arrange Court Reporter if Needed

The Family Court does not provide a court reporter at all hearings. If you would like to have a court reporter present to record the proceedings, you must make arrangements in advance. The court employs a limited number of court reporters and you may request that one be assigned to your hearing. However, the court reserves the right to assign court reporters to the proceedings where they are most needed. If a court reporter is needed in another department at the time of your hearing, one may not be present during your hearing. The only way to ensure that a court reporter will be present at your hearing is to hire a private court reporter at your own expense. The court does not assist in the hiring of private court reporters, nor can the court recommend a particular court reporter.

Arrange Interpreter if Needed

If you require the assistance of an interpreter, you will need to secure an interpreter before your hearing. You may use an adult friend or relative to interpret for you, but children of the parties should not be used as interpreters even if they are adults. Also, parties are not permitted to share a single interpreter. American Sign Language interpreters are available for all hearings at no charge through the Court Interpreter’s Office. Interpreters for other languages are offered without charge only for Domestic Violence and Contempt hearings. Arrangements for court interpreters should be made 1-2 weeks in advance by calling the Court Interpreter’s Office at 916-874-8455.

Select Appropriate Attire

Plan to dress for your court date as if going to a job interview in a business office. Suits or slacks and long-sleeved shirts are best for men. Pant or skirt outfits and dresses are appropriate for women. If you are coming from or going to work, your uniform or work clothes are fine. Make sure that you have made an effort to be neat, clean, and well groomed. Try to present the best side of yourself. After all, this is a place of business and you are going to be meeting the Judge about something important to you.

Plan Timely Arrival at Court

Arrange to be in court on time. It is very important to be on time for all scheduled court dates. Allow extra time due to possible traffic congestion. If you are late, your case could be removed from the court calendar, postponed, or the judge could rule against you without you being heard at all. If you are delayed or unable to attend your hearing due to a car breakdown, serious illness, or other emergency, contact the courtroom clerk on or before your hearing time by calling the William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse main number and following the prompts to reach the courtroom clerk.

Notice of Unavailability

A Notice of Unavailability may be filed when a party will not be on hand for hearings or appearances concerning their family law case. The forms are:

How to Prepare a Findings and Order After Hearing

If you have been ordered to prepare a Findings and Order After Hearing after a court hearing, you must have a formal order prepared. To obtain an order, you must complete the following forms that apply to your case:

You will only need those forms relating to the orders made by the Judge at your hearing. If you are uncertain whether you need a particular form, read the instructions for that form. Attach only those forms relating to orders from your Minute Order. All forms will be covered in these instructions, so skip the ones that do not apply.