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2010 California Code
Chapter 2. Family Conciliation Courts
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.
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