[NOTE: This article is the third in a series of articles about proposed legislation and court rules resulting from the Elkins Task Force study. Judge Mark Juhas, the Keynote Speaker at the October 14-16 CALDA Conference, will be discussing the implementation of these changes.]
Get ready for change! On January 1, 2012, the following will occur:
Family Code section 3042(h) states: "the Judicial Council shall, no later than January 1, 2012, promulgate a rule of court establishing procedures for the examination of a child witness, and include guidelines on methods other than direct testimony for obtaining information or other input form the child regarding custody or visitation."
You will want to obtain a copy of this rule as soon as it becomes available, and hand a copy to any clients with custody issues. Check your local court rules as well on January 1, 2012, for further changes in these same areas. Empower people with as much knowledge as possible going into this process.
FYI!!! From FCS to CCRC - Family Code section 3183 - This section outlines rules for mediators, and as of January 1, 2012, once the mediator makes a recommendation, the process shall be entitled "child custody recommending counseling" and, the mediator shall be referred to as a "child custody recommending counselor."
It's a mouth full, I'm sure there's a good reason in there somewhere for this change in terminology, a good question for Judge Juhas!
California Rules of Court, rule 5.83 will be adopted, effective January 1, 2012 and will be known as the Family Centered Case Resolution. "This rule establishes processes and procedures for courts to manage cases from initial filing to final disposition." This will include court review of all Family law cases within 180 days from the date of initial filing, and every 180 days thereafter. This rule is full of provisions that help guide the self-represented through both simple and more complex case management. You will want to familiarize yourself with these very substantial changes and keep your eyes out for major local rule changes as well. Of course this new rule will include new judicial council forms, specifically FL-172 (Case Information - Family Law) and FL-174 (Family Centered Case Resolution Order.)
Given the amount of work this system will require of the courts, I am most anxious to see if the courts might now consider plastering the CALDA poster all over the place! Additional new language includes the following: "Nothing in this rule prohibits an employee of the court from reviewing the file and notifying the parties of any deficiencies in their paperwork..." Wow!
I can't say it enough: You won't want to miss this conference! The Elkins material I am drawing from will be included in your class materials.
Connie Crockett, LDA
CALDA Conference Chair