Family Code 214 covers the topic of closed, non-public, hearings in family law cases. Let’s look at this code section.
Family Code 214
Family Code 214 states:
“Except as otherwise provided in this code or by court rule, the court may, when it considers it necessary in the interests of justice and the persons involved, direct the trial of any issue of fact joined in a proceeding under this code to be private, and may exclude all persons except the officers of the court, the parties, their witnesses, and counsel.”
Family Code 214’s interests of justice standard
Divorce trials are public trials regardless of the issue unless the court believes in the interest of justice the trial should be a private one. The interests of justice standard stated in Family Code 214 is a broad one. It gives the court discretion on this issue. The same is true in parentage cases although parentage court files, unlike divorce files, are confidential.
Family Code 214 private trials are usually not ordered on financial issues
It is unique for the court to order a private trial pursuant to Family Code 214 unless the trial involves child custody issues and it is those issues that are before the court. That is because financial issues rarely justify closing the court to the public.
Family Code 214 private hearings when social services is involved
Our experience is the court will order a hearing to be private and exclude the public when social services, also called child protective services, is involved in the family law case. This occurs when a social worker intends to testify regarding his or her investigation. In such situations, the court on the request of either party or on its own motion may exclude the public. The court will then conduct a “closed” hearing. This hearing is not limited to a trial. The hearing may be before trial or even after a trial.
If your family law matter is in Orange County, Los Angeles County or Riverside’s central court on Main Street, please contact us for an affordable strategy session to discuss your specific situation. Our family law firm is highly experienced in handling pending and post-judgment divorce and parentage matters.
Nothing contained on this page or on our website is legal advice nor should it be construed as such. It is not intended to apply to your specific situation or answer your specific questions.