Law:Division 14. Family Law Facilitator Act (California)

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Ca Codes (fam:10000-10015) Family.code Section 10000-10015



10000. This division shall be known and may be cited as the Family Law Facilitator Act.


10001. (a) The Legislature finds and declares the following: (1) Child and spousal support are serious legal obligations. The entry of a child support order is frequently delayed while parents engage in protracted litigation concerning custody and visitation. The current system for obtaining child and spousal support orders is suffering because the family courts are unduly burdened with heavy case loads and do not have sufficient personnel to meet increased demands on the courts. (2) Reports to the Legislature regarding the family law pilot projects in the Superior Courts of the Counties of Santa Clara and San Mateo indicate that the pilot projects have provided a cost-effective and efficient method for the courts to process family law cases that involve unrepresented litigants with issues concerning child support, spousal support, and health insurance. (3) The reports to the Legislature further indicate that the pilot projects in both counties have been successful in making the process of obtaining court orders concerning child support, spousal support, and health insurance more accessible to unrepresented parties. Surveys conducted by both counties indicate a high degree of satisfaction with the services provided by the pilot projects. (4) There is a compelling state interest in having a speedy, conflict-reducing system for resolving issues of child support, spousal support, and health insurance that is cost-effective and accessible to families that cannot afford legal representation. (b) Therefore, it is the intent of the Legislature to make the services provided in the family law pilot projects in the Counties of Santa Clara and San Mateo available to unrepresented parties in the superior courts of all California counties.


10002. Each superior court shall maintain an office of the family law facilitator. The office of the family law facilitator shall be staffed by an attorney licensed to practice law in this state who has mediation or litigation experience, or both, in the field of family law. The family law facilitator shall be appointed by the superior court.


10003. This division shall apply to all actions or proceedings for temporary or permanent child support, spousal support, health insurance, child custody, or visitation in a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, nullity of marriage, legal separation, or exclusive child custody, or pursuant to the Uniform Parentage Act (Part 3 (commencing with Section 7600) of Division 12) or the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (Division 10 (commencing with Section 6200)).

10004. Services provided by the family law facilitator shall include, but are not limited to, the following: providing educational materials to parents concerning the process of establishing parentage and establishing, modifying, and enforcing child support and spousal support in the courts; distributing necessary court forms and voluntary declarations of paternity; providing assistance in completing forms; preparing support schedules based upon statutory guidelines; and providing referrals to the local child support agency, family court services, and other community agencies and resources that provide services for parents and children. In counties where a family law information center exists, the family law facilitator shall provide assistance on child support issues.


10005. (a) By local rule, the superior court may designate additional duties of the family law facilitator, which may include, but are not limited to, the following: (1) Meeting with litigants to mediate issues of child support, spousal support, and maintenance of health insurance, subject to Section 10012. Actions in which one or both of the parties are unrepresented by counsel shall have priority. (2) Drafting stipulations to include all issues agreed to by the parties, which may include issues other than those specified in Section 10003. (3) If the parties are unable to resolve issues with the assistance of the family law facilitator, prior to or at the hearing, and at the request of the court, the family law facilitator shall review the paperwork, examine documents, prepare support schedules, and advise the judge whether or not the matter is ready to proceed. (4) Assisting the clerk in maintaining records. (5) Preparing formal orders consistent with the court's announced order in cases where both parties are unrepresented. (6) Serving as a special master in proceedings and making findings to the court unless he or she has served as a mediator in that case. (7) Providing the services specified in Section 10004 concerning the issues of child custody and visitation as they relate to calculating child support, if funding is provided for that purpose. (b) If staff and other resources are available and the duties listed in subdivision (a) have been accomplished, the duties of the family law facilitator may also include the following: (1) Assisting the court with research and any other responsibilities that will enable the court to be responsive to the litigants' needs. (2) Developing programs for bar and community outreach through day and evening programs, video recordings, and other innovative means that will assist unrepresented and financially disadvantaged litigants in gaining meaningful access to family court. These programs shall specifically include information concerning underutilized legislation, such as expedited child support orders (Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 3620) of Part 1 of Division 9), and preexisting, court-sponsored programs, such as supervised visitation and appointment of attorneys for children.


10006. The court shall adopt a protocol wherein all litigants, both unrepresented by counsel and represented by counsel, have ultimate access to a hearing before the court.


10007. The court shall provide the family law facilitator at no cost to the parties.


10008. (a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), nothing in this chapter shall be construed to apply to a child for whom services are provided or required to be provided by a local child support agency pursuant to Section 17400. (b) In cases in which the services of the local child support agency are provided pursuant to Section 17400, either parent may utilize the services of the family law facilitator that are specified in Section 10004. In order for a custodial parent who is receiving the services of the local child support agency pursuant to Section 17400 to utilize the services specified in Section 10005 relating to support, the custodial parent must obtain written authorization from the local child support agency. It is not the intent of the Legislature in enacting this section to limit the duties of local child support agencies with respect to seeking child support payments or to in any way limit or supersede other provisions of this code respecting temporary child support.


10010. The Judicial Council shall adopt minimum standards for the office of the family law facilitator and any forms or rules of court that are necessary to implement this division.


10011. The Director of the State Department of Social Services shall seek approval from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Child Support Enforcement, to utilize funding under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act for the services provided pursuant to this division.


10012. (a) In a proceeding in which mediation is required pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 10005, where there has been a history of domestic violence between the parties or where a protective order as defined in Section 6218 is in effect, at the request of the party alleging domestic violence in a written declaration under penalty of perjury or protected by the order, the family law facilitator shall meet with the parties separately and at separate times. (b) Any intake form that the office of the family law facilitator requires the parties to complete before the commencement of mediation shall state that, if a party alleging domestic violence in a written declaration under penalty of perjury or a party protected by a protective order so requests, the mediator will meet with the parties separately and at separate times.


10013. The family law facilitator shall not represent any party. No attorney-client relationship is created between a party and the family law facilitator as a result of any information or services provided to the party by the family law facilitator. The family law facilitator shall give conspicuous notice that no attorney-client relationship exists between the facilitator, its staff, and the family law litigant. The notice shall include the advice that the absence of an attorney-client relationship means that communications between the party and the family law facilitator are not privileged and that the family law facilitator may provide services to the other party.


10014. A person employed by, or directly supervised by, the family law facilitator shall not make any public comment about a pending or impending proceeding in the court as provided by paragraph (9) of subdivision (B) of Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Ethics. All persons employed by or directly supervised by the family law facilitator shall be provided a copy of paragraph (9) of subdivision (B) of Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Ethics, and shall be required to sign an acknowledgment that he or she is aware of its provisions.


10015. The Judicial Council shall create any necessary forms to advise the parties of the types of services provided, that there is no attorney-client relationship, that the family law facilitator is not responsible for the outcome of any case, that the family law facilitator does not represent any party and will not appear in court on the party's behalf, and that the other party may also be receiving information and services from the family law facilitator.


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