Months of backlog in family court ties up divorce cases

The backlog is about four months in family court

If you are filing for divorce, it could take much longer than you think.

 

There is a backlog in family court of about four months, according to the Court Executive Officer, Michael Roddy.

 

Sherman McEachern found that out as he was going through his divorce process. He and his soon to be ex-wife filed for divorce in October. McEachern said it should have been finalized in April. When he tried to find out why divorce documents were not mailed back to him yet, he learned it was going to take much longer.

 

“I called the clerk’s office. That was the first time, I realized they were telling me we’re eight to ten months behind,” McEachern said.

 

It’s affecting him both personally and financially.

 

“I can’t change health insurance until I have the signed divorce decree. She doesn’t want to use my health insurance because we’re separated, getting a divorce, so I’m paying for coverage no one’s using,” McEachern said.

 

“We’re hearing a lot of complaints from people,” Roddy said. “They want to get divorced.”

 

Roddy said this fiscal year, they’ve had to make $6 million in budget cuts on top of a $4 million deficit.

 

“That’s a $10 million dollar hit to the court. We lost about 100 employees and we had a hiring freeze,” Roddy said.

 

In small claims court, Roddy said it takes about a year to set your case for trial.

 

When asked who is at fault for the backlog, Roddy said it started with the recession.

 

“The recession hit California very hard, hit the courts very hard, and we have not bounced back to that level,” Roddy said.

 

“It’s just very frustrating because every day, I’m still being tied to a marriage that we both have left from,” McEachern said. He added that it is “disheartening” that people pay for a process and the service isn’t being delivered.

 

Roddy said they are hoping for more money in this next fiscal year, which they can use for personnel. He is expecting a flood of new orders in family court as the new tax law could affect divorce cases, with the changes in alimony payments.

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