September 28, 2020
Family Law Remote Appearance Protocol

The Court is expanding the use of remote appearances by way of Zoom Audio/Video to be used in family law by justice partners and litigants to appear remotely for certain family law calendars and hearing types. Please refer to the Calendar Appearance Requirement Matrix, a separate attachment, for specific detail as to calendar appearance requirements (Zoom, in-person, etc.).

If your matter is scheduled on a calendar that requires a Zoom appearance, please request credentials. Appearance by video is strongly requested; however, you may also appear by audio. If the calendar you are appearing on requires a Zoom appearance, only those who are unable to appear by way of Audio/Video may appear in person.

General Protocols

To obtain Zoom credentials for remote appearances, please submit your request online through the Court's website at www.sanmateocourt.org/zoom.

The following is required of all Audio/Video conferencing attendees:

  • Follow the same courtroom etiquette requirements when appearing remotely as you would in person
  • Mute your audio when you are not speaking
  • Should you be unable to appear by video as is strongly requested, and you appear by calling in only:
    • If you are using the audio only option, you must dial in; you cannot join with the audio only credentials on a desktop or tablet
    • Do not put the call on hold as music will play, and you will by disconnected by the Audio/Video conferencing host, and you will need to rejoin the Audio/Video conferencing session
  • Attorneys, parties, witnesses, and any third parties are not permitted to record the proceeding without advance permission from the judicial officer calling the calendar. Unauthorized recording of court proceedings violates California Rule of Court 1.150 and is punishable by monetary sanctions or contempt proceedings against the offending party.
  • If the case requires an interpreter:
    • The Court will only supply an interpreter if one is available and the parties provide sufficient notice to the interpreter coordinator
    • Interpreter requests must be received a minimum of two days prior to the hearing for the following languages: Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Tagalog, Portuguese, Arabic, Vietnamese, Russian, Korean, Tongan
    • If any other language is desired, a minimum of seven days' notice is required; a timely request for an interpreter does not guarantee the Court will be able to supply one
    • Please submit all interpreter requests through the Court's website at www.sanmateocourt.org, select 'Divisions,' and then select 'Interpreter Services'
    • Counsel that needs to have a private conversation with their client and are utilizing a Court provided interpreter, phone the interpreter coordinator at 650-261-5023, and we will connect you with an interpreter on standby who may assist you

Hearing-Specific Protocols

Mandatory Settlement Conferences

  • Remote appearance is mandatory
  • A courtroom clerk will send Zoom credentials to counsel no later than one week prior to the MSC
  • The judicial officer conferencing the matter will host the Zoom conference
  • If judicial officer generates any written order as a result of MSC hearing, judicial officer will transmit to the parties via email in .pdf format

Requests for Order

  • Remote appearance is mandatory

Domestic Violence Prevention Act-Temporary Restraining Order

  • If the matter proceeds to a hearing, the hearing will be conducted in person; therefore, personal appearance is required of counsel and/or parties if the matter will proceed on the hearing date
  • The moving party is expected to prepare a proposed order prior to the hearing and provide it to the court for consideration (orders will need to be completed before they leave the courtroom)
  • Prior to an evidentiary hearing, the standard admonishments will be presented to the parties. The admonishment will take the form of a video the Zoom attendant will present to the participants. Parties appearing in person will have the opportunity to view the admonishment video outside the courtroom or to read it in advance. Parties will be asked to confirm on the record that they have seen and understand the admonishment.

    Click on the hyperlinks below to view the DVPA Courtroom Notice (Admonition):

Family Law Support

  • Remote appearances are required
  • Prior to an evidentiary hearing, the standard admonishments regarding the hearing being held by a Commissioner will be read over Zoom, in the courtroom, and in the hallway. If necessary to reach all parties while maintaining social distancing, it may also be provided in writing. Parties will be asked to confirm on the record that they have heard or read, and understand the admonishment.

    The admonition language is available for review at this link. You may read it prior to your hearing. Parties will be asked to confirm on the record that they have heard or read, and understand the admonishment.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is my matter being heard?
    Only matters that are deemed emergency under the current COVID-19 Family Law orders are being heard. These matters include DVPA filings, RFOs and MSCs for cases that have Court Trials set to be heard in the next 120 days. The Court will review your matter and determine if it meets the emergency criteria. All other matters are being continued and notices will be sent.

  • What if I have a Court Trial?
    At this time there is no set date to resume hearing Family Law Court Trials, except for DVPA trials. If your matter is set to be heard in the next 120 days, the trial may have to be rescheduled pending any updates to the emergency orders.

  • If my matter is being heard, do I have to appear in person?
    In order to ensure social distancing and reduce the spread of COVID-19, RFOs and MSCs in the Family Law Default Departments (Department 14, 15, and 26) are being heard via Zoom. If your matter is going forward, please request credentials through the Court's website www.sanmateocourt.org/zoom

  • What if I have not received notice?
    Due to the volume of cases being rescheduled, there may be a delay in receiving notice. You may also need to update your address with the Court. Your address will only be updated upon filing a change of address form https://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/mc040.pdf

  • I submitted an RFO months ago and have not received a court date, what should I do?
    The Clerk's office has resumed processing filings, and will process filings from March 2020 forward in the order they were received. There will be a significant delay. Any inquiries about the status of submitted documents should be directed to the Family Law Clerk's Office, which has resumed telephone hours as of 6/22/2020, and can be reached at (650) 261-5100 or via e-mail at family_law_webmaster@sanmateocourt.org

  • I just filed a document and want to provide it to the Judge, can I appear in person to bring in a courtesy copy?
    Please do not deliver physical courtesy copies to the department or the courtroom. If your matter is going forward within 3 court days of filing your documents, please e-mail the department a courtesy copy of your filing. Be advised, you will still need to file your documents via e-file or in the clerk's office, if applicable.

  • I called or e-mailed the department and did not get a response, what should I do?
    Due to the volume of matters being rescheduled, the Family Law Default Department e-mails and phone messages may not be responded to right away. If you have not received a response within one week, please follow up with an e-mail to the department.
  • Resources
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