Law:Division 5. Conciliation Proceedings (California)

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Contents

Part 1. Family Conciliation Court Law

Chapter 1. General Provisions

Ca Codes (fam:1800-1802) Family.code Section 1800-1802



1800. This part may be cited as the Family Conciliation Court Law.


1801. The purposes of this part are to protect the rights of children and to promote the public welfare by preserving, promoting, and protecting family life and the institution of matrimony, and to provide means for the reconciliation of spouses and the amicable settlement of domestic and family controversies.


1802. (a) This part applies only in counties in which the superior court determines that the social conditions in the county and the number of domestic relations cases in the courts render the procedures provided in this part necessary to the full and proper consideration of those cases and the effectuation of the purposes of this part. (b) The determination under subdivision (a) shall be made annually in the month of January by: (1) The judge of the superior court in counties having only one superior court judge. (2) A majority of the judges of the superior court in counties having more than one superior court judge.


Chapter 2. Family Conciliation Courts

Ca Codes (fam:1810-1820) Family.code Section 1810-1820



1810. Each superior court shall exercise the jurisdiction conferred by this part. While sitting in the exercise of this jurisdiction, the court shall be known and referred to as the "family conciliation court."

1811. The presiding judge of the superior court shall annually, in the month of January, designate at least one judge to hear all cases under this part.

1812. (a) The judge of the family conciliation court may transfer any case before the family conciliation court pursuant to this part to the department of the presiding judge of the superior court for assignment for trial or other proceedings by another judge of the court, whenever in the opinion of the judge of the family conciliation court the transfer is necessary to expedite the business of the family conciliation court or to ensure the prompt consideration of the case. (b) When a case is transferred pursuant to subdivision (a), the judge to whom it is transferred shall act as the judge of the family conciliation court in the matter.


1813. (a) The presiding judge of the superior court may appoint a judge of the superior court other than the judge of the family conciliation court to act as judge of the family conciliation court during any period when the judge of the family conciliation court is on vacation, absent, or for any reason unable to perform the duties as judge of the family conciliation court. (b) The judge appointed under subdivision (a) has all of the powers and authority of a judge of the family conciliation court in cases under this part.


1814. (a) In each county in which a family conciliation court is established, the superior court may appoint one supervising counselor of conciliation and one secretary to assist the family conciliation court in disposing of its business and carrying out its functions. In counties which have by contract established joint family conciliation court services, the superior courts in contracting counties jointly may make the appointments under this subdivision. (b) The supervising counselor of conciliation has the power to do all of the following: (1) Hold conciliation conferences with parties to, and hearings in, proceedings under this part, and make recommendations concerning the proceedings to the judge of the family conciliation court. (2) Provide supervision in connection with the exercise of the counselor's jurisdiction as the judge of the family conciliation court may direct. (3) Cause reports to be made, statistics to be compiled, and records to be kept as the judge of the family conciliation court may direct. (4) Hold hearings in all family conciliation court cases as may be required by the judge of the family conciliation court, and make investigations as may be required by the court to carry out the intent of this part. (5) Make recommendations relating to marriages where one or both parties are underage. (6) Make investigations, reports, and recommendations as provided in Section 281 of the Welfare and Institutions Code under the authority provided the probation officer in that code. (7) Act as domestic relations cases investigator. (8) Conduct mediation of child custody and visitation disputes. (c) The superior court, or contracting superior courts, may also appoint, with the consent of the board of supervisors, associate counselors of conciliation and other office assistants as may be necessary to assist the family conciliation court in disposing of its business. The associate counselors shall carry out their duties under the supervision of the supervising counselor of conciliation and have the powers of the supervising counselor of conciliation. Office assistants shall work under the supervision and direction of the supervising counselor of conciliation. (d) The classification and salaries of persons appointed under this section shall be determined by: (1) The board of supervisors of the county in which a noncontracting family conciliation court operates. (2) The board of supervisors of the county which by contract has the responsibility to administer funds of the joint family conciliation court service.


1815. (a) A person employed as a supervising counselor of conciliation or as an associate counselor of conciliation shall have all of the following minimum qualifications: (1) A master's degree in psychology, social work, marriage, family and child counseling, or other behavioral science substantially related to marriage and family interpersonal relationships. (2) At least two years of experience in counseling or psychotherapy, or both, preferably in a setting related to the areas of responsibility of the family conciliation court and with the ethnic population to be served. (3) Knowledge of the court system of California and the procedures used in family law cases. (4) Knowledge of other resources in the community that clients can be referred to for assistance. (5) Knowledge of adult psychopathology and the psychology of families. (6) Knowledge of child development, child abuse, clinical issues relating to children, the effects of divorce on children, the effects of domestic violence on children, and child custody research sufficient to enable a counselor to assess the mental health needs of children. (7) Training in domestic violence issues as described in Section 1816. (b) The family conciliation court may substitute additional experience for a portion of the education, or additional education for a portion of the experience, required under subdivision (a). (c) This section does not apply to any supervising counselor of conciliation who was in office on March 27, 1980.


1816. (a) For purposes of this section, the following definitions apply: (1) "Eligible provider" means the Administrative Office of the Courts or an educational institution, professional association, professional continuing education group, a group connected to the courts, or a public or private group that has been authorized by the Administrative Office of the Courts to provide domestic violence training. (2) "Evaluator" means a supervising or associate counselor described in Section 1815, a mediator described in Section 3164, a court-connected or private child custody evaluator described in Section 3110.5, or a court-appointed investigator or evaluator as described in Section 3110 or Section 730 of the Evidence Code. (b) An evaluator shall participate in a program of continuing instruction in domestic violence, including child abuse, as may be arranged and provided to that evaluator. This training may utilize domestic violence training programs conducted by nonprofit community organizations with an expertise in domestic violence issues. (c) Areas of basic instruction shall include, but are not limited to, the following: (1) The effects of domestic violence on children. (2) The nature and extent of domestic violence. (3) The social and family dynamics of domestic violence. (4) Techniques for identifying and assisting families affected by domestic violence. (5) Interviewing, documentation of, and appropriate recommendations for families affected by domestic violence. (6) The legal rights of, and remedies available to, victims. (7) Availability of community and legal domestic violence resources. (d) An evaluator shall also complete 16 hours of advanced training within a 12-month period. Four hours of that advanced training shall include community resource networking intended to acquaint the evaluator with domestic violence resources in the geographical communities where the family being evaluated may reside. Twelve hours of instruction, as approved by the Administrative Office of the Courts, shall include all of the following: (1) The appropriate structuring of the child custody evaluation process, including, but not limited to, all of the following: (A) Maximizing safety for clients, evaluators, and court personnel. (B) Maintaining objectivity. (C) Providing and gathering balanced information from the parties and controlling for bias. (D) Providing separate sessions at separate times as described in Section 3113. (E) Considering the impact of the evaluation report and recommendations with particular attention to the dynamics of domestic violence. (2) The relevant sections of local, state, and federal laws, rules, or regulations. (3) The range, availability, and applicability of domestic violence resources available to victims, including, but not limited to, all of the following: (A) Shelters for battered women. (B) Counseling, including drug and alcohol counseling. (C) Legal assistance. (D) Job training. (E) Parenting classes. (F) Resources for a victim who is an immigrant. (4) The range, availability, and applicability of domestic violence intervention available to perpetrators, including, but not limited to, all of the following: (A) Certified treatment programs described in Section 1203.097 of the Penal Code. (B) Drug and alcohol counseling. (C) Legal assistance. (D) Job training. (E) Parenting classes. (5) The unique issues in a family and psychological assessment in a domestic violence case, including all of the following: (A) The effects of exposure to domestic violence and psychological trauma on children, the relationship between child physical abuse, child sexual abuse, and domestic violence, the differential family dynamics related to parent-child attachments in families with domestic violence, intergenerational transmission of familial violence, and manifestations of post-traumatic stress disorders in children. (B) The nature and extent of domestic violence, and the relationship of gender, class, race, culture, and sexual orientation to domestic violence. (C) Current legal, psychosocial, public policy, and mental health research related to the dynamics of family violence, the impact of victimization, the psychology of perpetration, and the dynamics of power and control in battering relationships. (D) The assessment of family history based on the type, severity, and frequency of violence. (E) The impact on parenting abilities of being a victim or perpetrator of domestic violence. (F) The uses and limitations of psychological testing and psychiatric diagnosis in assessing parenting abilities in domestic violence cases. (G) The influence of alcohol and drug use and abuse on the incidence of domestic violence. (H) Understanding the dynamics of high conflict relationships and relationships between an abuser and victim. (I) The importance of and procedures for obtaining collateral information from a probation department, children's protective services, police incident report, a pleading regarding a restraining order, medical records, a school, and other relevant sources. (J) Accepted methods for structuring safe and enforceable child custody and parenting plans that ensure the health, safety, welfare, and best interest of the child, and safeguards for the parties. (K) The importance of discouraging participants in child custody matters from blaming victims of domestic violence for the violence and from minimizing allegations of domestic violence, child abuse, or abuse against a family member. (e) After an evaluator has completed the advanced training described in subdivision (d), that evaluator shall complete four hours of updated training annually that shall include, but is not limited to, all of the following: (1) Changes in local court practices, case law, and state and federal legislation related to domestic violence. (2) An update of current social science research and theory, including the impact of exposure to domestic violence on children. (f) Training described in this section shall be acquired from an eligible provider and that eligible provider shall comply with all of the following: (1) Ensure that a training instructor or consultant delivering the education and training programs either meets the training requirements of this section or is an expert in the subject matter. (2) Monitor and evaluate the quality of courses, curricula, training, instructors, and consultants. (3) Emphasize the importance of focusing child custody evaluations on the health, safety, welfare, and best interest of the child. (4) Develop a procedure to verify that an evaluator completes the education and training program. (5) Distribute a certificate of completion to each evaluator who has completed the training. That certificate shall document the number of hours of training offered, the number of hours the evaluator completed, the dates of the training, and the name of the training provider. (g) (1) If there is a local court rule regarding the procedure to notify the court that an evaluator has completed training as described in this section, the evaluator shall comply with that local court rule. (2) Except as provided in paragraph (1), an evaluator shall attach copies of his or her certificates of completion of the training described in subdivision (d) and the most recent updated training described in subdivision (e). (h) An evaluator may satisfy the requirement for 12 hours of instruction described in subdivision (d) by training from an eligible provider that was obtained on or after January 1, 1996. The advanced training of that evaluator shall not be complete until that evaluator completes the four hours of community resource networking described in subdivision (d). (i) The Judicial Council shall develop standards for the training programs. The Judicial Council shall solicit the assistance of community organizations concerned with domestic violence and child abuse and shall seek to develop training programs that will maximize coordination between conciliation courts and local agencies concerned with domestic violence.


1817. The probation officer in every county shall do all of the following: (a) Give assistance to the family conciliation court that the court may request to carry out the purposes of this part, and to that end shall, upon request, make investigations and reports as requested. (b) In cases pursuant to this part, exercise all the powers and perform all the duties granted or imposed by the laws of this state relating to probation or to probation officers.


1818. (a) All superior court hearings or conferences in proceedings under this part shall be held in private and the court shall exclude all persons except the officers of the court, the parties, their counsel, and witnesses. The court shall not allow ex parte communications, except as authorized by Section 216. All communications, verbal or written, from parties to the judge, commissioner, or counselor in a proceeding under this part shall be deemed to be official information within the meaning of Section 1040 of the Evidence Code. (b) The files of the family conciliation court shall be closed. The petition, supporting affidavit, conciliation agreement, and any court order made in the matter may be opened to inspection by a party or the party's counsel upon the written authority of the judge of the family conciliation court.


1819. (a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), upon order of the judge of the family conciliation court, the supervising counselor of conciliation may destroy any record, paper, or document filed or kept in the office of the supervising counselor of conciliation which is more than two years old. (b) Records described in subdivision (a) of child custody or visitation mediation may be destroyed when the minor or minors involved are 18 years of age. (c) In the judge's discretion, the judge of the family conciliation court may order the microfilming of any record, paper, or document described in subdivision (a) or (b).


1820. (a) A county may contract with any other county or counties to provide joint family conciliation court services. (b) An agreement between two or more counties for the operation of a joint family conciliation court service may provide that the treasurer of one participating county shall be the custodian of moneys made available for the purposes of the joint services, and that the treasurer may make payments from the moneys upon audit of the appropriate auditing officer or body of the county of that treasurer. (c) An agreement between two or more counties for the operation of a joint family conciliation court service may also provide: (1) For the joint provision or operation of services and facilities or for the provision or operation of services and facilities by one participating county under contract for the other participating counties. (2) For appointments of members of the staff of the family conciliation court including the supervising counselor. (3) That, for specified purposes, the members of the staff of the family conciliation court including the supervising counselor, but excluding the judges of the family conciliation court and other court personnel, shall be considered to be employees of one participating county. (4) For other matters that are necessary or proper to effectuate the purposes of the Family Conciliation Court Law. (d) The provisions of this part relating to family conciliation court services provided by a single county shall be equally applicable to counties which contract, pursuant to this section, to provide joint family conciliation court services.


Chapter 3. Proceedings For Conciliation

Ca Codes (fam:1830-1842) Family.code Section 1830-1842



1830. (a) When a controversy exists between spouses, or when a controversy relating to child custody or visitation exists between parents regardless of their marital status, and the controversy may, unless a reconciliation is achieved, result in dissolution of the marriage, nullity of the marriage, or legal separation of the parties, or in the disruption of the household, and there is a minor child of the spouses or parents or of either of them whose welfare might be affected thereby, the family conciliation court has jurisdiction as provided in this part over the controversy and over the parties to the controversy and over all persons having any relation to the controversy. (b) The family conciliation court also has jurisdiction over the controversy, whether or not there is a minor child of the parties or either of them, where the controversy involves domestic violence.


1831. Before the filing of a proceeding for determination of custody or visitation rights, for dissolution of marriage, for nullity of a voidable marriage, or for legal separation of the parties, either spouse or parent, or both, may file in the family conciliation court a petition invoking the jurisdiction of the court for the purpose of preserving the marriage by effecting a reconciliation between the parties, or for amicable settlement of the controversy between the spouses or parents, so as to avoid further litigation over the issue involved.

1832. The petition shall be captioned substantially as follows: In the Superior Court of the State of California in and for the County of ____ Upon the petition ) of __________________ ) Petition for (Petitioner) ) Conciliation And concerning ) (Under the Family __________________ ) Conciliation _ and __________________ ) Court Law) _____________ , ) Respondents To the Family Conciliation Court:


1833. The petition shall: (a) Allege that a controversy exists between the spouses or parents and request the aid of the court to effect a reconciliation or an amicable settlement of the controversy. (b) State the name and age of each minor child whose welfare may be affected by the controversy. (c) State the name and address of the petitioner or the names and addresses of the petitioners. (d) If the petition is presented by one spouse or parent only, the name of the other spouse or parent as a respondent, and state the address of that spouse or parent. (e) Name as a respondent any other person who has any relation to the controversy, and state the address of the person if known to the petitioner. (f) If the petition arises out of an instance of domestic violence, so state generally and without specific allegations as to the incident. (g) State any other information the court by rule requires.


1834. (a) The clerk of the court shall provide, at the expense of the county, blank forms for petitions for filing pursuant to this part. (b) The probation officers of the county and the attachs and employees of the family conciliation court shall assist a person in the preparation and presentation of a petition under this part if the person requests assistance. (c) All public officers in each county shall refer to the family conciliation court all petitions and complaints made to them in respect to controversies within the jurisdiction of the family conciliation court. (d) The jurisdiction of the family conciliation court in respect to controversies arising out of an instance of domestic violence is not exclusive but is coextensive with any other remedies either civil or criminal in nature that may be available.


1835. No fee shall be charged by any officer for filing the petition.

1836. (a) The court shall fix a reasonable time and place for hearing on the petition. The court shall cause notice to be given to the respondents of the filing of the petition and of the time and place of the hearing that the court deems necessary. (b) The court may, when it deems it necessary, issue a citation to a respondent requiring the respondent to appear at the time and place stated in the citation. The court may require the attendance of witnesses as in other civil cases.


1837. (a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), for the purpose of conducting hearings pursuant to this part, the family conciliation court may be convened at any time and place within the county, and the hearing may be had in chambers or otherwise. (b) The time and place for hearing shall not be different from the time and place provided by law for the trial of civil actions if any party, before the hearing, objects to any different time or place.


1838. (a) The hearing shall be conducted informally as a conference or a series of conferences to effect a reconciliation of the spouses or an amicable adjustment or settlement of the issues in controversy. (b) To facilitate and promote the purposes of this part, the court may, with the consent of both parties to the proceeding, recommend or invoke the aid of medical or other specialists or scientific experts, or of the pastor or director of any religious denomination to which the parties may belong. Aid under this subdivision shall not be at the expense of the court or of the county unless the board of supervisors of the county specifically provides and authorizes the aid.

1839. (a) At or after the hearing, the court may make orders in respect to the conduct of the spouses or parents and the subject matter of the controversy that the court deems necessary to preserve the marriage or to implement the reconciliation of the spouses. No such order shall be effective for more than 30 days from the hearing of the petition unless the parties mutually consent to a continuation of the time the order remains effective. (b) A reconciliation agreement between the parties may be reduced to writing and, with the consent of the parties, a court order may be made requiring the parties to comply fully with the agreement. (c) During the pendency of a proceeding under this part, the superior court may order the husband or wife, or father or mother, as the case may be, to pay an amount necessary for the support and maintenance of the wife or husband and for the support, maintenance, and education of the minor children, as the case may be. In determining the amount, the superior court may take into consideration the recommendations of a financial referee if one is available to the court. An order made pursuant to this subdivision shall not prejudice the rights of the parties or children with respect to any subsequent order which may be made. An order made pursuant to this subdivision may be modified or terminated at any time except as to an amount that accrued before the date of filing of the notice of motion or order to show cause to modify or terminate.


1840. (a) During a period beginning upon the filing of the petition for conciliation and continuing until 30 days after the hearing of the petition for conciliation, neither spouse shall file a petition for dissolution of marriage, for nullity of a voidable marriage, or for legal separation of the parties. (b) After the expiration of the period under subdivision (a), if the controversy between the spouses, or the parents, has not been terminated, either spouse may institute a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, for nullity of a voidable marriage, or for legal separation of the parties, or a proceeding to determine custody or visitation of the minor child or children. (c) The pendency of a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, for nullity of marriage, or for legal separation of the parties, or a proceeding to determine custody or visitation of the minor child or children, does not operate as a bar to the instituting of proceedings for conciliation under this part.


1841. If a petition for dissolution of marriage, for nullity of marriage, or for legal separation of the parties is filed, the case may be transferred at any time during the pendency of the proceeding to the family conciliation court for proceedings for reconciliation of the spouses or amicable settlement of issues in controversy in accordance with this part if both of the following appear to the court: (a) There is a minor child of the spouses, or of either of them, whose welfare may be adversely affected by the dissolution of the marriage or the disruption of the household or a controversy involving child custody. (b) There is some reasonable possibility of a reconciliation being effected.

1842. (a) If an application is made to the family conciliation court for conciliation proceedings in respect to a controversy between spouses, or a contested proceeding for dissolution of marriage, for nullity of a voidable marriage, or for legal separation of the parties, but there is no minor child whose welfare may be affected by the results of the controversy, and it appears to the court that reconciliation of the spouses or amicable adjustment of the controversy can probably be achieved, and that the work of the court in cases involving children will not be seriously impeded by acceptance of the case, the court may accept and dispose of the case in the same manner as similar cases involving the welfare of children are disposed of. (b) If the court accepts the case under subdivision (a), the court has the same jurisdiction over the controversy and the parties to the controversy and those having a relation to the controversy that it has under this part in similar cases involving the welfare of children.


Part 2. Statewide Coordination Of Family Mediation And Conciliation Services

Ca Codes (fam:1850-1852) Family.code Section 1850-1852



1850. The Judicial Council shall do all of the following: (a) Assist counties in implementing mediation and conciliation proceedings under this code. (b) Establish and implement a uniform statistical reporting system relating to proceedings brought for dissolution of marriage, for nullity of marriage, or for legal separation of the parties, including, but not limited to, a custody disposition survey. (c) Administer a program of grants to public and private agencies submitting proposals for research, study, and demonstration projects in the area of family law, including, but not limited to, all of the following: (1) The development of conciliation and mediation and other newer dispute resolution techniques, particularly as they relate to child custody and to avoidance of litigation. (2) The establishment of criteria to ensure that a child support order is adequate. (3) The development of methods to ensure that a child support order is paid. (4) The study of the feasibility and desirability of guidelines to assist judges in making custody decisions. (d) Administer a program for the training of court personnel involved in family law proceedings, which shall be available to the court personnel and which shall be totally funded from funds specified in Section 1852. The training shall include, but not be limited to, the order of preference for custody of minor children and the meaning of the custody arrangements under Part 2 (commencing with Section 3020) of Division 8. (e) Conduct research on the effectiveness of current family law for the purpose of shaping future public policy.


1851. The Judicial Council shall establish an advisory committee of persons representing a broad spectrum of interest in and knowledge about family law. The committee shall recommend criteria for determining grant recipients pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 1850, which shall include proposal evaluation guidelines and procedures for submission of the results to the Legislature, the Governor, and family law courts. In accordance with established criteria, the committee shall receive grant proposals and shall recommend the priority of submitted proposals.


1852. (a) There is in the State Treasury the Family Law Trust Fund. (b) Moneys collected by the state pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 103625 of the Health and Safety Code, Section 70674 of the Government Code, and grants, gifts, or devises made to the state from private sources to be used for the purposes of this part shall be deposited into the Family Law Trust Fund. (c) Moneys deposited in the Family Law Trust Fund shall be placed in an interest bearing account. Any interest earned shall accrue to the fund and shall be disbursed pursuant to subdivision (d). (d) Money deposited in the Family Law Trust Fund shall be disbursed for purposes specified in this part and for other family law related activities. (e) Moneys deposited in the Family Law Trust Fund shall be administered by the Judicial Council. The Judicial Council may, with appropriate guidelines, delegate the administration of the fund to the Administrative Office of the Courts. (f) Any moneys in the Family Law Trust Fund that are unencumbered at the end of the fiscal year are automatically appropriated to the Family Law Trust Fund of the following year. (g) In order to defray the costs of collection of these funds, pursuant to this section, the local registrar, county clerk, or county recorder may retain a percentage of the funds collected, not to exceed 10 percent of the fee payable to the state pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 103625 of the Health and Safety Code.


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