Q. My Wife's attorney filed a dissolution at the main Riverside County
courthouse, but we both live in the Coachella Valley. They should have
filed it in Indio. It is a long drive for me to downtown Riverside from
my home and I don't want the case there. But I need immediate help
with spousal support and attorney fees and filed a motion for these orders
that had to be set in Riverside. My attorney is concerned about when my
motion will finally get heard if the case gets transferred to Indio. Is
there anything I should do or know?
David, Palm Desert, CA
This can be a real problem in terms of timing and delay. Because of the
Elkin's onslaught many judges are feeling cranky and overburdened
by the significant increase in demands upon their time (having to hold
evidentiary hearings whenever a party requests them). Your wife and her
attorney may well be intentionally stalling your access to justice. It
is highly likely that when you arrive in Court for the hearing on your
motion, the judge is going to refuse to go forward insisting that "we
already have enough business here." He may order that the case be
transferred to Indio, and not issue any orders at all pending that transfer.
It typically takes a month or more to accomplish a transfer between courts, even those within the same county. In the meantime, you fall off the map. The inefficiency is really quite extraordinary, and flies in the face of the reasons for the Elkin's changes (premised on better access to justice and ensuring due process in family court cases). Elkins is creating a lot of problems for underfunded court administrators, and appears likely to have the reverse impact than was intended.
Moreover, you may find that the motion for support that never gets heard in Riverside effectively goes off calender, meaning you may have to refile or submit ex parte paperwork to the Indio judges to have it reset for hearing. In the meantime you could lose possibly two to four months of time. There may be an issue whether the orders, when you finally obtain them, are retroactive to the date your first filed for them.
In order to avoid this, do not assume that the Riverside judge or the clerks will properly manage your case, or that a hearing will get re-set by them in the interim while the transfer is occurring - without more. Have your attorney insist at the hearing in Riverside that before you leave that day a new hearing date for your motion has been set in Indio and if the Riverside judge refuses to listen, make sure that your objections are placed on the record. That is the best you can do.
T.W. Arnold, CFLS