Los Angeles Divorce and Family Law Attorneys
Our Los Angeles divorce attorneys explain how divorce works in the City of Angels
Learn about Los Angeles Divorce and Family Law
As divorce attorneys in Los Angeles, we understand the importance of experience in Los Angeles and familiarity with local rules and procedures. Our Los Angeles divorce attorneys have extensive experience practicing throughout Los Angeles County courts.
Those courts include Stanley Mosk in downtown Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Pasadena, Long Beach, Torrance, Whittier, Pomona and more.
So, what is this page all about? We wanted to create a page for you so you understand the importance of family law experience in Los Angeles, and learn about Los Angeles' family law local rules and process.
We also provide you with interesting statistics and information about Los Angeles County that shows our beloved L.A.'s diversity.
Information About Our Family Law Firm's Los Angeles Location
Here is helpful information about our Los Angeles location, contact information and fantastic attorneys.
Where is the Los Angeles office located?
Our Los Angeles family law office is less than a mile from the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in Downtown Los Angeles.
What is the address to the Los Angeles office?
The address to the L.A. office is:
633 W. 5th Street, 26th Floor Los Angeles, CA 90071.
Our office is in the iconic U.S. Bank Tower.
How do I contact a divorce attorney in the Los Angeles office?
There are two ways to reach us.
First, you can call our L.A. number at (213) 201-1199. If you are on a mobile device, look at the bottom of your screen and you will see a link to call us.
Second, you can send us an email by scrolling down this page to our "contact us" form. When you complete the form and click "send", we will get an email.
Is there a managing attorney at the family law firm's Los Angeles office?
Yes, the managing attorney is Yvette Ochoa.
Yvette is a partner at the firm. She is an experienced family law attorney and manages the firm's Los Angeles office.
Her skill set is financially complex divorces, especially those that involve high income spouses or high net worth estates, including those with businesses.
Her high intelligence and skill level for financially complex cases makes her a terrific asset to her clients.
What do her clients say about her?
"I want thank my Attorney Yvette Ochoa for representing me during one of the most difficult and frustrating times for my family. She supported me the entire time. She always remained patient and professional. She always made me feel like my case was priority! Because of Yvette and the rest of the team I was able to gain joint physical and legal custody of my five year old son! I highly recommend her services to anyone who feels like they are the underdog! Thank you Yvette!"
"I had an excellent experience with Farzad and Ochoa Family Law Attorney's handling of my divorce case. Yvette Ochoa managed my case and I couldn't more pleased with her performance. She gave me sage advice on my settlement options and crafted a comprehensive offer that in the end was satisfactory to both parties. My wife's attorney was Hell bent to take me to court. With much help from Yvette, we were able to settle out of court. Importantly, I found her very accessible by phone, in person or email. I highly recommend Yvette and her practice."
To read more client reviews about Yvette or our other family law attorneys, check out our testimonials page.
Are there other divorce attorneys in the Los Angeles office?
Yes, the Los Angeles Office also includes other family law attorneys.
Click on their names below to visit their profile page.
Consulting with Our Top Los Angeles Divorce Attorneys
Here is how the consultation and retention process works between you and our top Los Angeles divorce attorneys.
What happens at the strategy session with the divorce attorney?
The strategy session is all about your questions and your needs. It is not a sales meeting. We do not spend time talking about how great we are.
We would rather walk you through the family law process from start to finish based on your specific situation.
You ask us questions and we answer them.
You need advice and provide it.
By the end of the strategy session, you may not have any questions left to ask. More importantly, you will have a confidence of extensive knowledge about your specific situation. That is how you make intelligent choices.
How long is the strategy session with the divorce attorney?
The strategy session will be the duration you reasonably need it.
Most strategy sessions are one hour or slightly less. Some strategy sessions may be up to two hours.
What is the cost of the strategy session?
We make the strategy session affordable for you.
We charge a flat fee of $300.00 for up to the first hour. After the first hour, the attorney's normal hourly rate applies.
That hourly rate may range between $350.00 to $450, although that is subject to change depending on the attorney.
Sometimes, depending on the situation, we may offer a shorter version of the strategy session for free.
Does the divorce attorney provide a quote for representation?
If your situation is one with which we can help and you and believe we are a good fit for your needs, we will provide you with a quote for representation.
This is not a quote for how much your family law case will cost.
No lawyer can give you an honest assessment of what your case will cost because family law cases are unpredictable.
However, we can quote you an initial retainer deposit that gets us started on your case.
The amount of the initial retainer deposit depends on the complexity and urgency of your situation.
How do I retain the attorney for my Los Angeles divorce?
We had the strategy session, answered your questions and both you and we believe we are a good fit for each other.
We will then send you a retainer contract to review.
Our family law firm works in a high technology environment so you rarely have to print or scan any documents we send you. Nearly everything we exchange with each other can be done electronically.
The same is true for the retainer contract and initial intake forms.
The retainer contract states the scope of our representation , the terms and conditions of retaining us and provide you information regarding the fees and costs.
Do you have additional reading material so I can better understand the divorce process?
Yes, we have informative and easy-to-understand articles and guides about the California divorce process and our laws.
We provide you with a link to them below.
Amazing Articles and Guides About California and Los Angeles Divorce Laws and Process
We hope you enjoy these comprehensive articles and guides about California divorce laws and process.
If you read these articles now, remember to return to this page. Later on this page, we provide you with helpful information on the specific Los Angeles divorce process, including local insight from managing partner, B. Robert Farzad, and partner, Yvette Ochoa.
Los Angeles Superior Court Website
The Los Angeles Superior Court's website www.lacourt.org features several helpful resources, such as:
- Contact information for people living with a disability to contact an American Disabilities Act coordinator for accommodations.
- A self-help page for self-represented court customers with quick links to look up traffic tickets, receive personal assistance, and set appointments.
- Online services to check on jury duty, pay tickets, verify court dates, and more.
- General information that lists public notices, news releases, and how to obtain an interpreter.
Los Angeles family courts are spread throughout the county
Below are Los Angeles courthouse locations that handle family law cases:
L.A. Courthouse Name
L.A. Courthouse Address
9425 Penfield Avenue, Chatsworth, CA 91311
200 West Compton Boulevard,
Compton, CA 90220
Long Beach, CA 90802
42011 4th Street West
Lancaster, CA 93534
300 East Walnut Street,
Pasadena, CA 91101
400 Civic Center Plaza
Pomona, CA 91766
1725 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90401
111 North Hill Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
825 Maple Ave.
Torrance, CA 90503
6230 Sylmar Ave.
Van Nuys, CA 91401
7339 South Painter Ave.
Whittier, CA 90602
Los Angeles has some of the best family judges
Our attorneys have decades of combined experience handling divorce and family law cases in Los Angeles.
L.A. has some of the best family law judges in Southern California.
Our managing partner, B. Robert Farzad states:
"With rare exceptions, Los Angeles family law judges and commissioners are well versed in substantive family law, procedure, and the rules of evidence. We enjoy practicing family law in Los Angeles because of what we often experience with the judicial officers. And I believe our family law firm fits well in Los Angeles because of our experience, emphasis on planning and preparation and strategic approach to every Los Angeles divorce we handle."
Partner, Yvette Ochoa agrees. She states:
"When appearing in front of a judge in Los Angeles County, the judge has taken the time to become familiar with your case. For example, if you are before a judge on a request for order filed by either party, prior to calling your case, the judge has read the relevant documents filed with the court. When you appear, your judge knows what the issues are, will provide his or her tentative ruling, and will ask pertinent questions to each party before making a ruling. I appreciate judges taking their time to review the filed documents and being diligent in understanding what issues are before them. It assures me I can efficiently and effectively present my client's case. This also reinforces our firm's practice of preparing and filing documents that are detailed and hit every issue with evidence that supports our client's position."
Los Angeles courts are handling family law cases with COVID-19 precautions
While restrictions will loosen, as of the end of 2020 and early 2021, here were the restrictions in place. As these restrictions may change on a weekly basis, please do not rely on this page for up-to-date information.
Visit the Los Angeles Superior Court website for more information.
- Everyone entering any courthouse or courtroom must wear face masks over their nose and mouth.
- People with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents them from wearing a face mask are exempt from this requirement.
- Nonetheless, they should take alternative protective measures their condition permits, such as wearing a face shield.
The following people cannot enter a Los Angeles courthouse or courtroom under the jurisdiction of the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles:
- People with flu or COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever and shortness of breath.
- Anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 or anyone who had contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.
- People who have been asked to self-quarantine by a medical provider.
- People who have traveled to any country within the last two weeks that the CDC issued a Level Two or Level Three travel health notices.
- People who live with or had close contact with someone who has traveled to any of these countries within the last two weeks.
Those unable to enter Court for any of the above reasons can take the following next steps:
- Contact your attorney.
- Contact the courtroom in which you are scheduled to appear if an attorney does not represent you.
- If you are an attorney, contact the courtroom you are scheduled to appear.
- If you are a juror, contact the Jury Services at (213) 972-0970 or the courtroom you are assigned.
- If you are seeking a restraining order, call (213) 830-0845.
Refer to the Los Angeles Court's website for further instructions concerning all other court business.
Los Angeles Divorces From Start to Finish
The Los Angeles divorce summons and petition
The Los Angeles divorce process begins when a petitioner (the spouse who wants to file) properly fills, signs, dates, and files an FL-100 (petition for dissolution, legal separation or nullity) and FL-110 (summons).
There is a $435 filing fee for the petition in Los Angeles County.
A Family Law Case Cover Sheet, FAM020, must accompany the initial filing in an action or proceeding under California Family Division Rules 5.2.
Serving divorce papers in Los Angeles
Both FL-100 and FL-110 are usually personally served on the respondent when someone other than the petitioner who is 18 or older serves all related forms to the respondent.
The proof of service must be filed with the Court by filling out and signing the POS-040.
There are several ways to serve divorce papers. The following article explains the different ways to serve a respondent and decide which option is best for you.
The State of California's court website provides information on alternatives to personal service.
The response to the petition
A respondent generally must file and serve his or her response no later than 30 days from the date of personal service. Depending on the service method, the timeline may be different.
A petitioner may take the respondent's default if the respondent failed to file and serve a response before the statuary deadlines expire. However, did the petitioner prepare the petition correctly, include the necessary disclosures, and give the necessary due process notice to the respondent to take a proper default? That is a question that requires legal advice. In our experience, many who file and serve a divorce petition do not do it correctly and fail to include all of the necessary information to take a proper default.
Unless the respondent challenges the petition on other grounds such as challenging the court's jurisdiction or challenge service (as two of several examples), he or she will complete, sign, file, and serve a response to the petition, titled an FL-120.
There is a $435 filing fee for the response in Los Angeles County. A respondent may apply for a fee waiver.
A respondent can serve the petitioner by mailing the response to the petitioner or the petitioner's lawyer.
Ex parte applications in Los Angeles
Ex parte (emergency) applications must comply with California Rules of Court, rules 5.151-5.169, unless an exception applies.
Applications per the Domestic Violence Prevention Act proceedings do not require notice.
Ex parte applications for temporary restraining orders in a Family Law Division matter may be presented to the department on any court day between 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Central District applicants may present ex parte applications for family law that are not for temporary restraining orders to the department on any court day between 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
Counsel or self-represented parties in District Courts must contact the family department assigned to the case or, if the matter is unassigned, the clerk's office for ex parte application hours.
The request for order process in Los Angeles divorces
The Family Court may grant immediate or emergency family court orders, such as California domestic violence restraining order requests or emergency custody orders, or grant such orders on a non-emergency basis. Non-emergency requests include those for child custody, parenting time child support, alimony, attorney's fees and costs, and more.
A request for order is typically set at 8:30 a.m. on court days although the time may change depending on the department.
A filing clerk may assign a department to the matter at the time the request is presented.
Self-represented men and women often make the mistake of completing the FL-300 and not including much more in their requests. That is a mistake, especially in Los Angeles Family Court. Los Angeles family law judges rely on the paperwork more than other courts in our experience. Therefore, doing the bare minimum is unwise. Spouses should include comprehensive declarations and specify the facts, evidence, and their requested relief in detail as attachments to the FL-300 form.
Discovery process in Los Angeles divorces
Discovery is the formal request
for information. Some examples of discovery include:
- Requests to produce documents
- Requests to admit facts as true
- Requests to admit documents are genuine
- Oral deposition
- Subpoena for deposition testimony, documents, or both
These are the most common discovery tools. However, there are more.
Trial setting process and conference in Los Angeles
In Los Angeles County, either party may request their case be set for trial.
In order to make this request, a party must file a local form called "Request for Trial Setting".
The local form number is FAM 014. After filing the Request for Trial Setting form, the court will schedule a Trial Setting Conference and will provide written notice of that conference to the parties in the case. When you appear at the Trial Setting Conference, the judge will ask you several questions.
These questions include but are not limited to, what issues are unresolved, what discovery remains in the case, and whether there is a possibility of settlement.
After receiving answers from each party, the judge will order the parties to prepare, serve, and file various documents prior to the next hearing.
The documents each party must prepare serve and file, include, but are not limited to, each party's Final Declaration of Disclosure, Trial Brief, Witness List, Exhibit List, Income and Expense Declaration, and appraisals or other forensic reports intended to be used at trial. At your Trial Setting Conference, the judge will either continue the Trial Setting Conference to a new date or schedule a Trial Readiness Conference.
When you return to court for the continued Trial Setting Conference or Trial Readiness Conference, the judge may make additional orders necessary for your case to be considered ready for a trial. The parties and their attorneys must be prepared to discuss the issues in their case, prepare for trial, their efforts at settlement, and their trial time estimates.
If there is a possibility of settlement, the judge may set the case for a settlement conference, a mandatory settlement conference, or a family-centered case resolution. The judge will only schedule a settlement conference or a mandatory settlement conference if the parties confirm they believe they can settle some or all of the issues in their case with assistance from the Court.
All parties and their respective attorneys must appear at these conferences. Additionally, as required by the local rules, each party's respective attorney must hold at least one face-to-face or telephonic settlement discussion and make a full exchange of all pertinent and information.
Note, without good cause, a party failing to comply with the judge's trial setting and or trial readiness orders may result in monetary sanctions and evidentiary sanctions. The judge may set an Order to Show regarding sanctions against the non-complying party.
After complying with the judge's orders made at the Trial setting Conference or Trial Readiness Conference, the judge will determine if your case is ready to be set for trial. The judge will not set your case for trial if a party has not complied with the orders.
Basically, the judge has the parties do all of the work necessary for a trial before a trial date is set to ensure the trial dates are not continued due to a party, or the parties, needing more time to prepare. By the time the judge sets a trial date, the parties have exhausted all possibility of settling the issues and the only work left is for the parties to prepare for the trial itself, including preparation of their direct and cross-examination of witnesses, including the parties, preparing their opening and closing statements, and preparing and filing any necessary pre-trial motions.
If the parties have complied with the Trial Setting Conference or Trial Readiness Conference orders, then the case will be set for trial and assigned to a judge who will hear your trial.
The judge may or may not be the same judge assigned to your case for all purposes. The judge orders the parties to attend a scheduling conference with their trial judge. At the scheduling conference, the trial judge will select the trial date or dates and will make additional orders regarding motions, pleadings, and/or documents to be filed and/or served prior to the scheduled trial dates.
These motions, pleadings, and/or documents include but are not limited to Motions in Limine, amended trial briefs, final exhibits and witness lists, and the exhibits themselves.
These orders are meant to ensure the trial runs smoothly and there are no delays. The next time you see the trial judge will be the first day of trial.
Los Angeles divorce trials
The divorce trial process is very similar to trials in other California counties.
To learn more about divorce trials, visit our Guide on California Divorce Trials.
Interesting statistics about Los Angeles marriages, divorce, and demographics
Los Angeles marriage statistics
41% of Los Angeles residents are married. This is for everyone over the age of 15. Yes, we thought 15 was also an odd starting point for that statistic by the Census Reporter.
50% of Los Angeles men have never been married, compared to 43% of women.
Two percent of Los Angeles men and seven percent of women are widowed.
Los Angeles divorce statistics
Seven percent of Los Angeles men are divorced, as are 9% of women.
Law firms in Los Angeles County anticipated an increase in divorce cases during the pandemic.
Income demographics in the County of Los Angeles
The per capita income in Los Angeles is $37,779.
The median Los Angeles household income is $67,418.
Median household income in Los Angeles varies significantly by Zip Code from $21,676 in 90013 (Downtown) to $210,833 in 90077 (Bel Air Estates).
About 66,436 people are currently homeless in Los Angeles.
About 38% of Los Angeles households make less than $50,000.
Approximately 16.7% of Los Angeles households live below the poverty line.
Nearly a quarter of Los Angeles minors live in poverty.
Los Angeles Economy
Los Angeles County would be the 19th largest economy in the world if it were a country.
Los Angeles has the nation's largest international trade industry and manufacturing base.
Los Angeles County has the two largest seaports in America.
Tourists spend over $18 billion in Los Angeles County annually.
The Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Dodgers are worth a combined $7 billion.
Forbes ranks The Los Angeles Kings as the sixth most valuable NHL team with an $850 million team value.
Los Angeles has the most minority- and women-owned businesses in the country.
Education level in Los Angeles
Nearly 79% of Los Angeles residents have at least a high school diploma, and 36% of residents have at least a Bachelor's degree.
Los Angeles has three of the world's leading research universities: Caltech, UCLA, USC, and 118 other colleges and universities.
There are 1.5 million college graduates in the County of Los Angeles.
Immigrant presence in Los Angeles County
Los Angeles residents speak a language other than English at a rate of 1.3 times higher than the California average.
53% of Los Angeles County residents with children between the ages of five and 17 speak Spanish.
About 36% of Los Angeles County residents were born outside of America.
Immigrants in Los Angeles have almost $291 billion in spending power and pay $39 billion in state and local taxes.
Los Angeles County is home to 100 consulates.
Cost of living in Los Angeles County
The median value of 52% of owner-occupied housing units in Los Angeles is between $500,000 and $1,000,000.
It takes residents of Los Angeles an average amount of 33 minutes to get to work.
46% of Los Angeles households own their own home.
The gender wage gap in Los Angeles
Women in Los Angeles County earn about 81 cents to every dollar a man earns.
Nearly 25% of Latinas and African American women in Los Angeles live under the federal poverty lines.
Los Angeles Family Law Local Rules
Here are some of Los Angeles' family law local rules. We will not list all of them. We consider these the most important for this guide.
Los Angeles Family Law Local Rule 5.3 - Session Hours and Calendaring
Ex Parte Application
An ex parte application and order, including notice thereof, must comply with California Rules of Court, rules 5.151-5.169, except for good cause shown or as otherwise provided by law. In a Domestic Violence Prevention Act proceeding, an application may be made without notice pursuant to Family Code section 6300.
Restraining Order Ex Parte Application
An Ex Parte application for temporary restraining order or other order under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (Fam. Code, § 6200 et seq.) and other ex parte application for temporary restraining order in a matter specifically assigned to the Family Law Division may be presented to the department designated for such purpose by the court on any court day from 8:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m., and from 1:30 p.m. until 3:30 p.m.
Family Law Ex Parte Application
Timing. A party bringing an ex parte application on a ground other than specified in subsection (a)(1) above, for which notice was provided, must present it for filing before 10:00 a.m. of the day for which notice was provided. If notice was not provided, a party must present the application for filing before 10:00 a.m. of the day on which the applicant seeks the order.
Presentation of Application. A party must present the ex parte application for filing in the Clerk's Office of the district courthouse to which the case is assigned through the Clerk's Office's resource account, by fax filing, by drop-box filing or by physical delivery (advance appointment is necessary).
A party must present for filing any papers in opposition to the ex parte application before 10:00 a.m. of the day for which notice was provided in the Clerk's Office of the district courthouse to which the case is assigned through the Clerk's Office's resource account, by fax filing, by drop-box filing or by physical delivery (advance appointment is necessary). The deadline for filing opposition to an ex parte application for which no notice was given will be determined by the court. A party opposing an ex parte application who does not present a written opposition may request a hearing by 10:00 a.m.
The court may make emergency orders based on the documents submitted or may set a hearing before ruling on an ex parte application. The court will provide reasonable notice of such hearing to permit in-person or remote appearances.
A party bringing an ex parte application and a party providing written opposition must serve the papers on the other party or on the other party's attorney at the first reasonable opportunity.
Calendaring A Noticed Motion and Trial
Request for Order and Other Noticed Motion: A request for an order and other motion hearings are set at 8:30 a.m. on court days not otherwise reserved for trials or other proceedings, unless otherwise ordered by the court. At the time of presenting the request or other motion, the filing clerk will set the matter in the assigned department only on the days available therefor. The moving papers must include on the face page and caption of form FL-300 the exact nature of the request for order or other non-Family Code request that is included in the request or motion.
Trials and Family Code Section 217 Hearings
The department to which the case is assigned will set trial, a Family Code section 217 hearing, and related proceedings pursuant to Local Rule 5.13 at times and days available in that department.
Los Angeles Family Law Local Rule 5.9 - Financial Declarations and Supporting Documents
The parties must completely fill in all blanks on financial declarations (including the Income and Expense Declaration), as required by California Rules of Court, rule 5.92. If a party claims that a previously-filed financial declaration is "current" within the meaning of California Rules of Court, rule 5.427(d), a copy must be attached to the moving or responding papers.
In addition to the schedules and pay stubs required to be attached to the Income and Expense Declaration, the parties must bring to the hearing copies of state and federal income tax returns (including all supporting schedules) and all loan applications (whether or not the loan was granted) for the last two years.
Los Angeles Family Law Local Rule 5.10 - Temporary Spousal Support
In determining the proper amount of temporary spousal support, the court may use the guideline developed in Santa Clara County.
Los Angeles Family Law Local Rulev5.12 - Family-Centered Case Resolution
It is the intent of the court to provide judicial assistance and management to the parties in family law cases in order to focus on early resolution of cases through settlement, expedite the processing of cases, and reduce the costs of litigation. (See Fam. Code, § 2450.)
The court may hold a status conference at the first hearing calendared by a party after the response to the Petition is filed. At the status conference, the court may review the progress of the case, identify unresolved issues, develop discovery plans and discuss the possibility of settlement.
At the status conference, counsel must inform the court of the following matters:
- the attendance of both parties at parents and children together ("PACT") or completion of the on-line program available through the court's website, and Family Court Services mediation;
- the service by both parties of a complete Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure;
- the filing with the court of a Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure and Income and Expense Declaration;
- the readiness of the parties to participate in mediation;
- the appropriateness of referral to arbitration;
- the willingness of the parties, to limit, schedule or expedite discovery, including the willingness to provide the opposing party, without a discovery request: (a) the name, address, and telephone number of each individual likely to have discoverable information that supports the party's disclosures, and (b) a copy of, or a description by category and location of, all documents, data compilations, and tangible things that are in the possession, custody or control of the party and that supports the party's disclosures;
- the appropriateness of implementation of a family centered case resolution plan pursuant to Family Code section 2451; and
- the willingness of the parties to stipulate to the appointment of court experts, and allocate the expert's expense, or to schedule a hearing for the appointment and expense allocation of court experts.
At any status conference, the court may:
- schedule disclosure of expert witnesses, by stipulation;
- inquire whether issues can be narrowed by stipulation and set dates for the filing of stipulations;
- set dates for further status conferences, as needed, and no less often than every six months;
- set dates for other events that must take place before the next status conference;
- set the date for trial and/or settlement conferences; and
- take such other action, as permitted by law, which could promote the just and efficient disposition of the case.
Appearance by counsel at any status conference, either in person or by telephone (if approved in advance by the court), is mandatory.
Failure to appear will result in the setting of an order to show cause why sanctions should not be imposed. No appearance is required if excused by the court, a judgment has been filed, or the case has been dismissed.
Los Angeles Family Law Local Rule 5.13 - Trial Setting
A party may request that the case be set for trial by filing the court's Request for Trial Setting form number FAM 014, by request for order, orally, or as otherwise directed by the court.
The department to which the case is assigned, upon finding that the case is ready for trial setting, may, in its discretion, transfer the case to Department 2, or to another department, for all trial setting, trial readiness and trial settlement related matters, from which the case will then be re-assigned for trial to any available trial department, which could include the department originally assigned. The department originally assigned will continue to handle all other non-trial and post trial proceedings.
The parties will be notified in open court or by mail of the date and time of the trial and/or pre- trial proceedings.
The parties are required to provide the court with reasonable and accurate time estimates for trial. Unless otherwise ordered, trial counsel and the parties must appear at the trial setting conference in person.
In the event that the case settles, the parties must immediately notify the court, so that the trial date may be vacated.
Los Angeles Family Law Local Rule 5.14 - Trial Readiness, Settlement Conferences and Pre-Trial Orders
At a Trial Readiness Conference ("TRC") or other trial setting proceeding the court may make orders deemed necessary for the case to be considered ready for trial and may set the case for a Settlement Conference ("SC"), Mandatory Settlement Conference ("MSC"), Family Centered Case Resolution ("FCCR"), Arbitration, or other Alternate Dispute Resolution proceedings.
All parties and trial counsel must appear personally at the Trial Setting Conference, FCCR, TRC, SC, MSC, Arbitration, or other Alternate Dispute Resolution proceeding unless otherwise ordered, and comply with Local Rule 5.9.
The court's role at the TRC, SC, or MSC is to assist the parties in settlement negotiations. Prior to a TRC, SC, or MSC, counsel must hold at least one face-to-face or telephonic settlement discussion, and make a full exchange of all pertinent information. The parties must be prepared to discuss the issues in the case, preparedness for trial, efforts at settlement, and trial time estimates.
Unless otherwise ordered, not less than seven calendar days before a SC, MSC, Arbitration, or other Alternate Dispute Resolution proceeding, each party must serve on the other the following:
- A conformed copy of the Declaration Regarding Service of Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure (form FL-141);
- A current Income and Expense Declaration (form FL-150) as required by Family Code section 3665 and California Rules of Court, rule 5.260, and Local Rule 5.9. The parties must attach pay stubs for the last two months. If self-employed, the parties must also attach a Profit and Loss Statement for the past two years or a Schedule C from their last tax return. The parties must completely fill in all blanks on financial declarations. "Unknown", "minimal" and "TBD" are not acceptable answers. The parties must bring to court copies of last year's State and Federal Income Tax Returns, including all supporting schedules;
- A Schedule of Assets and Debts (form FL-142), Property Declaration (form FL- 160), Propertizer, or equivalent balance sheet. The parties must list community property and separate property assets and debts with a proposed division, as well as accurate fair market values and loan balances as of the current date and at the date of separation, if applicable. "Unknown", "minimal" and "TBD" are not acceptable answers;
- An exhibit list. The parties must exchange all non-impeachment exhibits to be offered at trial. The exhibits must be consecutively numbered as directed by the court. Exhibits must be pre-marked. Exhibits of more than one page must be given page numbers. The parties must bring the exhibits to the SC, MSC, Arbitration, or other Alternate Dispute Resolution proceeding;
- A list of all non-party, non-impeachment witnesses, their address and current phone numbers. The list must briefly describe each witness' testimony with specificity and provide an estimate as to the time needed for direct and cross examination. Witness List (form FL-321) may be used for this purpose; and
- Appraisals or other forensic reports intended to be used at trial.
Contents of the SC or MSC Brief. An SC or MSC Brief, if ordered by the court, must contain the following:
- The times and dates of the MSC and the trial, set forth in the caption;
- All relevant statistical facts, including the date of marriage, date of separation, length of marriage (in years and months); and the number and ages of minor children;
- A recitation of the facts of the case and its procedural history, identifying all previous orders bearing on any matter in dispute;
- Each party's specific proposals regarding child custody and child and/or spousal support, together with computer support printouts if applicable;
- The proposed division of community assets and community debts;
- The amount of any attorneys' fees, experts' fees, or costs being requested.
Sanctions for Failure to Comply with Trial Readiness Requirements Ordered by the Court. The failure, without good cause, to follow these orders may result in sanctions including monetary sanctions under Code of Civil Procedure section 177.5, California Rules of Court, rule 5.14, attorney's fees under Family Code section 271, evidentiary sanctions including exclusion of non-impeachment documents and witnesses not timely disclosed, and may result in vacating existing trial dates.
Los Angeles Family Law Local Rule 5.15 - Trial
The trial date cannot be continued by stipulation of the parties. At a hearing before the court, the court may, in its discretion, continue the trial date upon a showing of good cause. (See Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1332.)
The court may, at its discretion, order counsel to comply with all or part of the disclosures and pleadings required for an MSC. (See Local Rule 5.14.)
A party seeking attorneys' fees, experts' fees, or costs must comply with California Rules of Court, rule 5.427.
All exhibits listed in a party's exhibit list exchanged pursuant to the TRC, MSC, or other court order must be pre-marked and exchanged at least five court days prior to the initial date set for trial. Absent a showing of good cause, exhibits not pre-marked and exchanged will not be received in evidence.
Before trial begins, unless otherwise ordered, counsel and self-represented parties must submit to the clerk all pre-marked exhibits and a second "working" copy for the court. Voluminous exhibits should be placed in a binder with appropriate tabs. (See Local Rules 3.52 and 3.53 regarding marking of exhibits for trial.)
Counsel should read and be familiar with Local Rules 3.37-3.159 regarding civil trial procedure.
Los Angeles Family Law Local Rule 5.16 - Judgment Procedure
In every case in which the court asks a party to prepare and file a judgment, counsel for the party so ordered must serve the proposed judgment on opposing counsel for approval as to form and file the approved judgment with the court. If the party ordered to prepare the judgment fails to do so, or if the opposing party files objections to the proposed judgment within ten days of service, the opposing party's counsel may prepare and submit a proposed judgment to the court with a proof of service on the other party.
At the time the court orders the judgment prepared, the court will set an order to show cause re: entry of judgment. If the judgment approved as to form is received prior to this hearing, no appearance is necessary. If no judgment is received, sanctions may be imposed.
Bifurcated Status Only Judgments
Parties in action for dissolution may file a bifurcated judgment on the issue of marital status only. The box on the Judicial Council Judgment form (FL-180) must be checked which provides that jurisdiction is reserved over all other issues and all present orders remain in effect.
A Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure with all required attachments must be served on the nonmoving party with the proposed judgment, unless it has been served previously and a proof of service is filed with the court.
Stipulated Judgments on Further Reserved Issues
When all remaining issues have been resolved, a Stipulation for Judgment or Further Judgment Upon Reserved Issues may be submitted to the court without appearance. The proposed judgment must comply with the California Rules of Court. The following forms must be submitted:
- Original and three copies of the judgment;
- The court will retain the original and one copy;
- If child support has been ordered, the judgment must be accompanied by:
- A Stipulation to Establish or Modify Child Support and Order;
- If appropriate, an Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support;
- If appropriate, a Stay of Service of Earnings Assignment Order;
- An Appearance, Stipulation and Waiver, including a stipulation that the matter may be heard by a commissioner sitting as a judge pro tempore;
Declaration Regarding Service of the Final Declaration of Disclosure
If the Declaration Regarding Final Declaration of Disclosure is waived, the waiver must be a separate waiver, not included within the judgment;
- Original and two copies of the Notice of Entry of Judgment; and
- Two self-addressed, stamped envelopes, addressed to each counsel.
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