BILL NUMBER: AB 2587	INTRODUCED
	BILL TEXT


INTRODUCED BY   Assembly Member Ruskin

                        FEBRUARY 22, 2008

   An act to amend Sections 3110 and 3110.5 of, and to add Section
3110.6 to, the Family Code, relating to child custody.


	LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


   AB 2587, as introduced, Ruskin. Child custody: child custody
evaluators.
   Existing law authorizes the court, in a contested proceeding
involving child custody or visitation rights, to appoint a child
custody evaluator to conduct a child custody evaluation in cases in
which the court determines it is in the best interests of the child.
Existing law requires court-connected and private child custody
evaluators to complete a described domestic violence and child abuse
training program and to comply with other requirements. Existing law
requires the Judicial Council to formulate a statewide rule of court
by January 1, 2002, that establishes education, experience, and
training requirements for all court-appointed child custody
evaluators, and requires child custody evaluators to declare under
penalty of perjury that they meet all of the education, experience,
and training requirements of the rule and, if applicable, possess a
license in good standing.
   This bill would revise these provisions by conforming references
to "child custody evaluators" to include court-connected,
court-appointed, and private child custody evaluators. The bill would
provide that a child custody evaluator's written report and
testimony are considered admissible evidence only when they are
compliant with provisions specifying the admissibility if the
opinions of experts, are based upon sufficient facts or data, and are
the product of principles and methods that are consistent with the
standards generally accepted by the medical, psychiatric, legal, and
psychological communities.
   Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: no.
State-mandated local program: no.


THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  SECTION 1.  Section 3110 of the Family Code is amended to read:
   3110.  As used in this chapter  , "court-appointed
  : 
    (a)     "Court-appointed  investigator"
means a probation officer, domestic relations investigator, or
court-appointed evaluator directed by the court to conduct an
investigation pursuant to this chapter. 
   (b) "Court-connected or court-appointed child custody evaluator"
means a court-appointed investigator.  
   (c) "Private child custody evaluator" means a child custody
evaluator who is not appointed by the court. 
  SEC. 2.  Section 3110.5 of the Family Code is amended to read:
   3110.5.  (a) No person may be a court-connected  ,
court-appointed,  or private child custody evaluator under this
chapter unless the person has completed the domestic violence and
child abuse training program described in Section 1816 and has
complied with Rules 5.220 and 5.230 of the California Rules of Court.

   (b) (1) On or before January 1, 2002, the Judicial Council shall
formulate a statewide rule of court that establishes education,
experience, and training requirements for all  court-connected,
court-appointed, and   private  child custody
evaluators appointed pursuant to this chapter, Section 730 of the
Evidence Code, or Chapter 15 (commencing with Section 2032.010) of
Title 4 of Part 4 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
   (A) The rule shall require a child custody evaluator to declare
under penalty of perjury that he or she meets all of the education,
experience, and training requirements specified in the rule and, if
applicable, possesses a license in good standing. The Judicial
Council shall establish forms to implement this section. The rule
shall permit court-connected  , court-appointed   , and
private child custody  evaluators to conduct evaluations if they
meet all of the qualifications established by the Judicial Council.
The education, experience, and training requirements to be specified
for court-connected  ,   court-   appointed,
and private child custody  evaluators shall include, but not be
limited to, knowledge of the psychological and developmental needs of
children and parent-child relationships.
   (B) The rule shall require all evaluators to utilize comparable
interview, assessment, and testing procedures for all parties that
are consistent with generally accepted clinical, forensic,
scientific, diagnostic, or medical standards. The rule shall also
require evaluators to inform each adult party of the purpose, nature,
and method of the evaluation.
   (C) The rule may allow courts to permit the parties to stipulate
to an evaluator of their choosing with the approval of the court
under the circumstances set forth in subdivision (d). The rule may
require courts to provide general information about how parties can
contact qualified child custody evaluators in their county.
   (2) On or before January 1, 2004, the Judicial Council shall
include in the statewide rule of court created pursuant to this
section a requirement that all court-connected  ,
court-appointed,  and private child custody evaluators receive
training in the nature of child sexual abuse. The Judicial Council
shall develop standards for this training that shall include, but not
be limited to, the following:
   (A) Children's patterns of hiding and disclosing sexual abuse
occurring in a family setting.
   (B) The effects of sexual abuse on children.
   (C) The nature and extent of child sexual abuse.
   (D) The social and family dynamics of child sexual abuse.
   (E) Techniques for identifying and assisting families affected by
child sexual abuse.
   (F) Legal rights, protections, and remedies available to victims
of child sexual abuse.
   (c) In addition to the education, experience, and training
requirements established by the Judicial Council pursuant to
subdivision (b), on or after January 1, 2005, no person may be a
child custody evaluator under this chapter, Section 730 of the
Evidence Code, or Chapter 15 (commencing with Section 2032.010) of
Title 4 of Part 4 of the Code of Civil Procedure unless the person
meets one of the following criteria:
   (1) He or she is licensed as a physician under Chapter 5
(commencing with Section 2000) of Division 2 of the Business and
Professions Code and either is a board certified psychiatrist or has
completed a residency in psychiatry.
   (2) He or she is licensed as a psychologist under Chapter 6.6
(commencing with Section 2900) of Division 2 of the Business and
Professions Code.
   (3) He or she is licensed as a marriage and family therapist under
Chapter 13 (commencing with Section 4980) of Division 2 of the
Business and Professions Code.
   (4) He or she is licensed as a clinical social worker under
Article 4 (commencing with Section 4996) of Chapter 14 of Division 2
of the Business and Professions Code.
   (5) He or she is a court-connected  , court-appointed, or
private child custody  evaluator who has been certified by the
court as meeting all of the qualifications for court-connected  ,
court-appointed, or private  evaluators as specified by the
Judicial Council pursuant to subdivision (b).
   (d) Subdivision (c) does not apply in any case where the court
determines that there are no evaluators who meet the criteria of
subdivision (c) who are willing and available, within a reasonable
period of time, to perform child custody evaluations. In those cases,
the parties may stipulate to an individual who does not meet the
criteria of subdivision (c), subject to approval by the court.
   (e) A child custody evaluator who is licensed by the Medical Board
of California, the Board of Psychology, or the Board of Behavioral
Sciences shall be subject to disciplinary action by that board for
unprofessional conduct, as defined in the licensing law applicable to
that licensee.
   (f) On or after January 1, 2005, a court-connected  ,
court-appointed,  or private child custody evaluator may not
evaluate, investigate, or mediate an issue of child custody in a
proceeding pursuant to this division unless that person has completed
child sexual abuse training as required by this section.
  SEC. 3.  Section 3110.6 is added to the Family Code, to read:
   3110.6.  (a) A child custody evaluator's written report and
testimony are considered admissible evidence only if the report and
testimony are described by all of the following:
   (1) They are compliant with Section 801 of the Evidence Code and
based upon sufficient facts or data.
   (2) They are the product of principles and methods that are
consistent with the standards generally accepted by the medical,
psychiatric, legal, and psychological communities.
   (b) Nothing in this section precludes a child custody evaluator
from freely interviewing parents and children, observing parent-child
interaction, speaking to collateral sources, consulting over or
using psychological data, or using his or her professional expertise
to integrate data, assess and evaluate psychological issues, or
communicate the results of those analyses to the court consistent
with ethical and professional standards.