Family Court Services Online Orientation - Santa Clara County Superior Court

Family Law icon Project Name: Family Court Services Online Orientation
Court: Santa Clara Superior Court
   Documents: Online Orientation Course Overview

Overview/Program Description:

The court's Family Court Services (FCS) began offering an online orientation class to parties ordered to attend orientation to provide basic information on how child custody mediation works. This program provides parties an option to attend an orientation class online or in person. The orientation consists of five YouTube videos to watch, each followed by a review to help guide parents through the child custody mediation process. At the end of the process, the participant is able to complete a form to send information to FCS. The online orientation takes a minimum of 45 minutes to complete and is only available in English at this time. The court hopes to offer a Spanish version in the next few months.

Program Benefits/Savings:

Benefits to the court:

  • Reduced numbers of in-person classes are now being scheduled. In the past, four to ten classes are scheduled each month. The court is now able to free up resources to provide an in-person orientation each month by offering one class in English and one in Spanish. This also allows the mediator four hours to conduct mediation and screenings.
  • The online orientation cuts down on the number of times support staff must leave the office to set-up and break down in-person classes.
  • The online classes bring more consistency in information provided by the FCS mediators to the participants. It better prepares the participant because the online course requires the participant to answer a series of questions that ensure the participant understands the mediation process before proceeding to the next section, which ensures participation from every user.
  • The intake forms submitted electronically are more legible and complete compared to the handwritten submittals completed during an in-person class. This new on-line process also reduced the number of participants coming into the FCS office and mail processing.
  • FCS staff does not have to expend time ensuring that parties with domestic violence allegations were not placed in the same class, with their alleged abuser.

Benefits to the clients:

  • Participant may view the course as many times as they find it helpful.
  • Reduced stress by reducing the number of visits to the court and possibly the number of times a participant had to take time from work.
  • Reduced anxiety of possibly seeing opposing party
  • For parties with domestic violence (DV) restraining orders, safety is improved with fewer trips to the court as well as reduces stress for litigants who are likely traumatized by their DV experience.

The court estimates that online orientation will provide the following benefits this coming year and going forward:

  • 70+ additional mediation or screening appointments equal less court involvement, shorter wait time, and increase public safety
  • 100+ staff hours saved by eliminating time spent in travel and teaching
  • 200+ hours of support staff time saved by going from paper to electronic submittal intake forms. We will no longer have to collect, sort, and file intake forms
  • Decreased paper costs as we are now receiving a majority of the intake forms electronically
  • Decreased director and senior mediator time to address questions from out-of-state parties who do not want to attend in-person orientation. Decreased need to prepare orders to accommodate parties who must travel far distances for orientation.
  • Decreased time to review incomplete intake forms and decreased need for parties to answer questions related to intake forms (electronic submittals forms have required fields, parties have instant access to records in their household; information is typed and legible).
  • Decreased Sheriff’s security costs of approximately 144 hours per years (to attend in-person class).

Other Courts Using Similar Programs:

  • Napa Superior Court