The Family Court of St. Louis County is open subject to the Order of the Missouri Supreme Court dated April 1, 2020. Any Family Court proceedings conducted in-person shall be limited to the attorneys, parties, witnesses, security officers and other individuals necessary to the proceedings as determined by the judge presiding over the proceedings. All family court proceedings are subject to the provisions set forth below. This COVID-19 protocol shall remain in effect until further notice. This protocol may be amended as necessary.
Effective April 6, 2020: any Court Order regarding child custody which is otherwise valid, shall remain in full force and effect. Law enforcement shall have authority to enforce custody, visitation and parenting time orders as long as enforcement does not contradict any Order of St. Louis County Juvenile Court, or any self-quarantine guidelines of the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other state or federal agency promulgated to contain COVID-19.
If compliance with the custody, visitation or parenting time order would be impossible or dangerous (for example, because a member of the receiving parent’s household has been exposed to COVID-19), the parents are encouraged to make alternative arrangements for exchange by agreement, which may result in extending the time with each parent and /or make up time. If parents are unable to agree, the parties may seek relief through the appropriate legal process. In the absence of an agreement or court order, all parties are expected to safely comply with existing court orders.
Failure to exercise prudent caution may be grounds for a temporary restraining order. Likewise, failure or refusal to comply with a Court Order relating to custody and visitation of children may be grounds for a finding of contempt, which could result in a modification of custody, a fine or monetary sanctions, or imprisonment.
Effective June 15, 2020 the Juvenile Division of the Family Court will begin to set hearings for Adoptions, contested non-detained juvenile cases, Abuse & Neglect contested hearings and TPR cases where there are allegations of abandonment or where parental consent has been given. Protective Custody, Detention, Certifications, Abuse & Neglect and Delinquency Initial hearings, Dispositional Reviews, Permanency, Permanency Review hearings and any cases that involve a detained juvenile will continue to be heard as scheduled. If your case was continued, you will be notified of your next court date. For information on setting Motions in the juvenile divisions, please contact the division clerk for a setting.
Orders of Protection:
Anyone with a case on the Adult Abuse docket will be notified of their court date. If you were granted an ex parte order of protection, that Order will remain in effect until your next court date.
Pretrial/Settlement Conferences shall resume effective April 6, 2020. Please contact the Division clerk or the respective judge’s web page for information on how Pretrial/Settlement Conferences will be set in a division. Pursuant to Rule of Professional Conduct 4-8.4 and Local Rule 11, settlement conferences SHALL NOT be recorded, nor shall they be used as evidence. At the beginning of each conference, all participants must notify the Court who is present in the room.
If attorneys have previously scheduled matters that conflict with the Court’s scheduled conference time, it is the responsibility of the attorneys to contact the Division three days prior to the setting and reschedule at a mutually convenient time.
All motions shall be submitted on the pleadings. In cases All motions shall be submitted on the pleadings. In cases involving a TRO, a PDL involving custody and motions for contempt contact the division clerk for a setting.
Trials and Non-Custody PDL’s:
Effective immediately the family court will begin hearing cases involving relocation and residential parent determinations and default judgments. Attorneys/Parties are advised to contact the respective division to schedule a settlement conference on these cases. These trials will be conducted remotely by the court.
There will be no other trials or non-custody PDL’s heard at this time. These matters will be rescheduled by the individual divisions.
DRS/Exchange Center and Visitation:
For information on the Exchange Center or supervised visitation, please check the court’s website https://wp.stlcountycourts.com/family-court/domestic-relations/
The requirement that parties complete the parent education program in person is suspended until further order of the court. Completion of the on-line program entitled “Missouri Extension Online, Focus with Kids” or the Parent Educators’ St. Louis County Parent Education Program will satisfy the parent education requirement on a temporary basis. Proof of completion must be filed with the court. Here are the links:
The Resource Center is closed until Friday, May 1, 2020. You may still complete your packet online at www.selfrepresent.mo.gov. New pleadings may be filed at the Office of the Circuit Clerk with your filing fee.
REMOTE PRETRIAL/SETTLEMENT CONFERENCES
In compliance with the orders of Missouri Supreme Court, the St. Louis County Department of Health and the Presiding Judge of St. Louis County all in person pretrial/settlement shall not be conducted. Thus, options are set forth below to allow these conferences to take place remotely.
a) Attorneys may contact the Division Clerk and have the call transferred directly to the judge’s telephone in chambers.
b) Attorneys may contact the Division Clerk and have the call transferred directly to the judge’s cell phone, if the clerk’s phone has that capability.
c) An attorney may set up the conference call by notifying the court and opposing counsel via email and providing the toll free telephone number and all applicable codes
d) Attorneys may utilize Zoom.com or Scopia (Webex) to conduct the conference as a teleconference or videoconference. The court and attorneys would have to download the Zoom or Scopia app. The court would provide the attorneys with the access code and would start the meeting at the time set for the conference. The attorneys would need to join the meeting by entering the code at the time set for the conference. (Please note that there may be a maximum of forty (40) minutes allowed for the conference.)
e) Attorneys may contact the court on Freeconferencecall.com. The court would set up a profile to receive a telephone number, access code and personal pin. The court would provide the telephone number and the access code to attorneys. The court would call the telephone number at the time set for the conference, enter the access code, enter the pin number and follow the prompts. The attorneys would call the telephone number at the time set for the conference.
PETITIONS FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDERS
- To the extent practicable, prior to seeking a TRO, all party attorneys/GALs shall make best efforts to attempt to resolve all pending issues.
- If the parties require a TRO during the pendency of the above Administrative Order, they must notify the Court and efile and email all relevant pleadings to the Court.
- If the trial or evidentiary hearing is to exceed 40 minutes, the parties must notify the Court. The Court shall then notify IT so that the IT Zoom longer duration account may be used.
- Hearings are scheduled at the discretion of the Division.
- The division clerk or Judge shall send a Zoom, Scopia/WebEx or teleconference call invitation to the Judge, petitioner’s attorney, respondent’s attorney, GAL and pro se parties, if applicable.
- Exhibits may be handled one of two ways at the Judge’s discretion:
- Exhibits may be efiled under a heightened security level to ensure confidentiality until received by the Court. The Division Clerk shall pull the Exhibits and place them in the Judge’s queue for review.
- Exhibits may be emailed to the Judge, Division Clerk and all parties prior to the proceeding.
- Each trial will be its own separate meeting invitation to be conducted via Zoom, Scopia/WebEx or teleconference.
- It is the responsibility of the attorneys to work with one another to determine a way in which their client can participate in the proceedings.
- Counsel shall not distribute the judge’s email to the parties or third parties.
- The hearings shall start on time. You MUST be logged in to the meeting 5 minutes prior to start time.
- If any party is having issues connecting via Zoom, Scopia or via teleconference, they are to immediately notify the Court.