San Diego Courts Eliminate Court Reporting Services in Many Child Custody Matters

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San Diego parents pursuing child custody rights, often find themselves in heated conflicts with one another. There are many unexpected issues that arise and require parties to carefully consider the proceedings, and reflect on what was said and has taken place in the family law courtroom. As of December 2012, the San Diego court system has ceased to provide court reporters in family law matters, with the exception of Contempt hearings, Domestic Violence Restraining Order hearings, as well as Request for Order hearings of 40 minutes or less. If you are involved in a child custody dispute, you are encouraged to contact an experience San Diego family law attorney to help protect your rights.

The court is essentially saying that they don’t have a choice in the matter. Citing massive budget cuts of $14 million for the current fiscal year, 2012/13, and even greater predicted cuts in the amount of $40 million for 2013/14, the San Diego court system decided to eliminate court reporters in cases where it is not legally required to provide them. While the order eliminating the requirement of providing court reporters is a big change, and one that will take some getting used to, parties may still have an opportunity to hire their own court reporter for their family law matter.

Parents disputing child custody matters will likely want to have a record of their proceedings to keep track of the dialogue, so that they can better protect their rights and be sure that the outcome is in the best interests of the child. The court provides rules by which the parties can hire a court reporter, lists of various sources, but in the end, the parties have to pay. They will have to use a court-certified reporter who must be appointed by the court in each matter. However, if they do not select a reporter on the court-approved list, all parties must agree on the ultimate choice to be appointed.

Unfortunately for the parties, what was once a complimentary feature of the family court proceeding is now one that will cost them money. And in many cases, it could be cost-prohibitive. According to an editorial piece in the Sacramento Bee, if family law litigants want a record of what occurs at their child custody hearings, they will have to pay a minimum of $239 for a half day.

The editorial piece argues that many litigants cannot afford these costs and are left with no choice: either pay up or proceed without a record. The author cites another problem: judges hear a multitude of cases in one day and often scribble their notes in an illegible manner, leaving some parties unsure about the court’s ultimate ruling. That can be a distressing proposition, especially in family matters where the outcome, in all likelihood, will impact the parties for the rest of their lives.

The San Diego court provides a “question and answer” document concerning the hiring of a court reporter. For parents with child custody concerns, the best course of action is to first consult an experienced family law attorney.

If you have questions about a child custody matter, you are encouraged to contact Doppelt & Forney. Mr. Doppelt is a knowledgeable family law attorney with more than 20 years of experience representing parents in Southern California. Doppelt & Forney serves clients in Encinitas, Linda Vista, San Diego, and Scripps Ranch. For a free consultation with an experienced and dedicated family lawyer, contact Doppelt & Forney through the law firm’s website or give us a call toll-free at (800) ROY IS IT (769-4748).

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