BILL NUMBER: AB 939	CHAPTERED
	BILL TEXT

	CHAPTER  352
	FILED WITH SECRETARY OF STATE  SEPTEMBER 27, 2010
	APPROVED BY GOVERNOR  SEPTEMBER 25, 2010
	PASSED THE SENATE  AUGUST 20, 2010
	PASSED THE ASSEMBLY  AUGUST 23, 2010
	AMENDED IN SENATE  AUGUST 16, 2010
	AMENDED IN SENATE  AUGUST 3, 2010
	AMENDED IN SENATE  AUGUST 2, 2010
	AMENDED IN SENATE  JULY 15, 2010
	AMENDED IN SENATE  JUNE 17, 2010
	AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY  JANUARY 4, 2010

INTRODUCED BY   Committee on Judiciary (Feuer (Chair), Brownley,
Evans, Jones, Krekorian, Lieu, and Monning)

                        FEBRUARY 26, 2009

   An act to amend Sections 215, 2030, 2032, 2034, 2330.3, 2400,
2403, 2450, 2451, 3027, 3121, 3150, 3151, 3183, 3557, 6323, and 6340
of, and to add Section 217 to, the Family Code, and to amend Section
328 of, and to add Section 827.10 to, the Welfare and Institutions
Code, relating to family law proceedings.



	LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


   AB 939, Committee on Judiciary. Family law proceedings.
   Existing law prohibits after entry of judgment in specified family
law proceedings in which there was at issue the visitation, custody,
or support of a child, modification of the judgment or order, and
prohibits a subsequent order in the proceedings, unless notice is
served upon the party, as specified.
   This bill would authorize a postjudgment motion to modify a
custody, visitation, or child support order to be served on the other
party by first-class mail or airmail, as specified.
   Existing law provides that all relevant evidence is admissible in
an action before the court, including evidence relevant to the
credibility of a witness or hearsay declarant, subject to specified
exceptions.
   This bill would require the court in a family law action to
receive all live, competent, and relevant testimony at a hearing of
an order to show cause or notice of motion, unless the parties
stipulate otherwise or the court makes a finding of good cause to
refuse to hear the testimony.
   Existing law provides that a court in a dissolution of marriage
proceeding may order one party to pay the other party an amount that
is reasonably necessary for attorney's fees or costs in order to
ensure that each party has access to legal representation. Under
existing law, the court shall base this determination on the
respective incomes and needs of the parties and any factors affecting
the parties' respective abilities to pay.
   This bill would provide that, when a request for attorney's fees
and costs is made, the court shall make findings regarding whether an
award of attorney's fees and costs is appropriate, whether there is
a disparity in access to funds to retain counsel, and whether one
party is able to pay for legal representation. The bill would require
the court to make an order awarding attorney's fees and costs if the
findings demonstrate disparity in access and ability to pay. The
bill would require the Judicial Council, by January 1, 2012, to adopt
a rule of court and develop a form to implement this provision.
   Existing law provides for summary dissolution proceedings if
certain conditions exist at the time the proceeding is commenced,
including that there are no children, as specified, neither party has
any interest in real property, as specified, and the marriage is not
more than 5 years in duration at the time the petition is filed. A
proceeding for summary dissolution is commenced by filing a joint
petition that is signed under oath by the husband and the wife, as
specified.
   This bill would revise the latter condition that must be met at
the time a proceeding for summary dissolution is commenced to instead
require that the marriage be not more than 5 years in duration as of
the date of separation of the parties.
   Existing law also provides that when 6 months have expired from
the date of the filing of the joint petition for summary dissolution
of marriage, the court may, upon application of either party, enter
judgment dissolving the marriage. At any time before the filing of
the application for judgment, however, either party to the marriage
may revoke the joint petition and thereby terminate the proceeding
for summary dissolution.
   This bill would authorize the court to enter judgment dissolving
the marriage when 6 months have expired without requiring the
application of either party, unless a revocation of the joint
petition has been filed.
   Existing law provides that in an action for dissolution of
marriage, the court, upon motion, is required to hold a preliminary
status conference to determine whether a case management plan will be
ordered. Existing law further provides that no case management plan
may be ordered absent the stipulation of the parties. Existing law
also sets forth the content of case management plans.
   This bill would delete the requirement that the parties stipulate
to the case management plan.
   The bill would also delete references to case management plans and
would instead refer to family centered case resolution plans. The
bill would revise the content of those plans and require the Judicial
Council to adopt a statewide rule of court to implement these
provisions. The latter provisions would become operative on January
1, 2012.
   Existing law provides that the court may appoint private counsel
to represent the interests of a child in a custody or visitation
proceeding if it determines that it would be in the best interest of
the child. Existing law specifies the duties of a child's counsel,
and grants the counsel the discretion to present the child's wishes
to the court if he or she deems it appropriate.
   This bill would require the court and counsel to comply with
specified requirements if the court appoints private counsel pursuant
to the provision described above. The bill would also require the
child's counsel to present the child's wishes to the court if the
child so desires.
   Existing law authorizes a mediator to submit a recommendation to
the court as to the custody of or visitation with a child, except as
specified.
   This bill would provide that the mediation and recommendation
process shall be referred to as "child custody recommending
counseling" and the mediator shall be referred to as a "child custody
recommending counselor."
   Under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, the court in a
protective order proceeding may issue an ex parte order granting
temporary child custody and visitation to a party who has established
a parent and child relationship. Existing law provides that the
court may not make a finding of paternity in this proceeding.
   This bill would provide that the court in a protective order
proceeding may accept a stipulation of paternity by the parties and,
if paternity is uncontested, enter a judgment establishing paternity.
The bill would provide that if the court in a protective order
proceeding makes an order for custody, visitation, or support, the
order shall survive the termination of the protective order.
   Under existing law, if allegations of child sexual abuse arise
during a child custody proceeding, the court may take reasonable,
temporary steps to protect the child's safety, including requesting
that the local child welfare services agency conduct an investigation
of the allegations. Existing law provides that a social worker shall
make an investigation of allegations of child abuse or neglect and
shall determine whether it is appropriate to offer child welfare
services to the family. Under existing law, juvenile case files are
confidential, except as provided.
   This bill would expand the scope of those provisions to apply to
all allegations of child abuse. The bill would direct a social worker
to draw no inference regarding the credibility of allegations of
child abuse from the mere existence of a child custody or visitation
dispute. The bill would also provide an exception to the
confidentiality of child welfare agency records for certain
participants in family law and probate guardianship cases by
authorizing the child welfare agency to permit inspection of, and to
provide copies of, its records, as specified.


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

  SECTION 1.  The Legislature finds and declares all of the
following:
   (a) Family law touches the most central aspects of Californians'
lives, such as where, when, and how often a parent will see his or
her child, the personal safety of the parent and child, how much
child and spousal support one person will receive and the other will
pay, and how the assets that the family has accumulated will be
divided between the separating parties. These decisions can have a
dramatic and lasting impact on people's lives.
   (b) Faced with crowded family law calendars and the rising numbers
of self-represented litigants, as over 70 percent of litigants in
family law are unrepresented, many courts have adopted local rules
and procedures in an attempt to more efficiently process the high
volume of family law cases. While some of these rules and procedures
have been innovative, others have created barriers to litigants
getting their day in court, particularly litigants who are
unrepresented. These barriers include drastically reducing live
testimony in family law, which the California Supreme Court found, in
its landmark decision Elkins v. Superior Court (2007) 41 Cal.4th
1337, deprives family law litigants of due process protections.
Access to justice requires that parties be able to appropriately
address the court and present their cases.
   (c) Family law cases involve an extraordinary range of issues,
from the most simple, uncontested case with no children and no
property to cases involving complex legal issues, highly personal and
difficult conflicts over children, or serious issues of domestic
violence and child safety. Unlike general civil, complex civil,
juvenile, probate, and criminal cases, family law is the last general
jurisdiction in California that does not provide a procedure for the
fair, timely, and efficient disposition of a case. The courts cannot
manage limited resources efficiently, nor serve the best interests
of California's families and children, without the ability to manage
the flow of cases through the courts. Under the current system, the
parties, who are most often self-represented, must take the
initiative to obtain appropriate orders and judgments in a
complicated judicial process that very few litigants can understand,
and they often fail to take the next step toward completing the case.
As a result, it is not unusual for family law cases to linger in the
court for years. By eliminating the current ability of one party to
drag out a case for years, the Legislature intends that all parties
participate in, and benefit from, family centered case resolution.
   (d) A fundamental responsibility of judges in family law cases is
to protect the safety and well-being of children. Family courts are
confronted with allegations of child abuse or neglect and must
respond to these accusations appropriately. In order to help ensure
that allegations of child abuse, neglect, and violence are fully
investigated and that children are protected from harm, child welfare
services should be required to fully investigate all allegations of
this type, regardless of the existence of a family law dispute
involving the same parties. No inference regarding the credibility of
the allegations or the need for child welfare services shall be
drawn from the existence of a child custody or visitation dispute.
   (e) Courts appoint minor's counsel to provide representation for a
child and to meet the need the court may have for additional
information on which to base a difficult child custody decision. To
be responsive to the complexities inherent in the cases that involve
minor's counsel and the challenges attorneys, parties, and children
may face when these appointments are made, the role of minor's
counsel must be more clearly delineated and the responsibilities of
minor's counsel more clearly defined so that there is greater
transparency and clarity in order to provide the best possible
representation for children in these matters.
   (f) Given the lifelong impact of family law matters, legal
assistance in these cases is critical. Unfortunately, over 70 percent
of litigants in family law cases are unrepresented by counsel. While
many cases involve parties who are all unrepresented, in some of
these cases one party can afford counsel but the other cannot. These
cases pose significant difficulties for the unrepresented litigant,
the attorney, and the judicial officer. Representation for parties
can be significantly improved in some of these cases if courts make
early need-based attorney's fee awards.
  SEC. 2.  Section 215 of the Family Code is amended to read:
   215.  (a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), after entry of a
judgment of dissolution of marriage, nullity of marriage, legal
separation of the parties, or paternity, or after a permanent order
in any other proceeding in which there was at issue the visitation,
custody, or support of a child, no modification of the judgment or
order, and no subsequent order in the proceedings, is valid unless
any prior notice otherwise required to be given to a party to the
proceeding is served, in the same manner as the notice is otherwise
permitted by law to be served, upon the party. For the purposes of
this section, service upon the attorney of record is not sufficient.
   (b) A postjudgment motion to modify a custody, visitation, or
child support order may be served on the other party or parties by
first-class mail or airmail, postage prepaid, to the persons to be
served. For any party served by mail, the proof of service must
include an address verification.
  SEC. 3.  Section 217 is added to the Family Code, to read:
   217.  (a) At a hearing on any order to show cause or notice of
motion brought pursuant to this code, absent a stipulation of the
parties or a finding of good cause pursuant to subdivision (b), the
court shall receive any live, competent testimony that is relevant
and within the scope of the hearing and the court may ask questions
of the parties.
   (b) In appropriate cases, a court may make a finding of good cause
to refuse to receive live testimony and shall state its reasons for
the finding on the record or in writing. The Judicial Council shall,
by January 1, 2012, adopt a statewide rule of court regarding the
factors a court shall consider in making a finding of good cause.
   (c) A party seeking to present live testimony from witnesses other
than the parties shall, prior to the hearing, file and serve a
witness list with a brief description of the anticipated testimony.
If the witness list is not served prior to the hearing, the court
may, on request, grant a brief continuance and may make appropriate
temporary orders pending the continued hearing.
  SEC. 4.  Section 2030 of the Family Code is amended to read:
   2030.  (a) (1) In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage,
nullity of marriage, or legal separation of the parties, and in any
proceeding subsequent to entry of a related judgment, the court shall
ensure that each party has access to legal representation, including
access early in the proceedings, to preserve each party's rights by
ordering, if necessary based on the income and needs assessments, one
party, except a governmental entity, to pay to the other party, or
to the other party's attorney, whatever amount is reasonably
necessary for attorney's fees and for the cost of maintaining or
defending the proceeding during the pendency of the proceeding.
   (2) When a request for attorney's fees and costs is made, the
court shall make findings on whether an award of attorney's fees and
costs under this section is appropriate, whether there is a disparity
in access to funds to retain counsel, and whether one party is able
to pay for legal representation of both parties. If the findings
demonstrate disparity in access and ability to pay, the court shall
make an order awarding attorney's fees and costs. A party who lacks
the financial ability to hire an attorney may request, as an in pro
per litigant, that the court order the other party, if that other
party has the financial ability, to pay a reasonable amount to allow
the unrepresented party to retain an attorney in a timely manner
before proceedings in the matter go forward.
   (b) Attorney's fees and costs within this section may be awarded
for legal services rendered or costs incurred before or after the
commencement of the proceeding.
   (c) The court shall augment or modify the original award for
attorney's fees and costs as may be reasonably necessary for the
prosecution or defense of the proceeding, or any proceeding related
thereto, including after any appeal has been concluded.
   (d) Any order requiring a party who is not the spouse of another
party to the proceeding to pay attorney's fees or costs shall be
limited to an amount reasonably necessary to maintain or defend the
action on the issues relating to that party.
   (e) The Judicial Council shall, by January 1, 2012, adopt a
statewide rule of court to implement this section and develop a form
for the information that shall be submitted to the court to obtain an
award of attorney's fees under this section.
  SEC. 5.  Section 2032 of the Family Code is amended to read:
   2032.  (a) The court may make an award of attorney's fees and
costs under Section 2030 or 2031 where the making of the award, and
the amount of the award, are just and reasonable under the relative
circumstances of the respective parties.
   (b) In determining what is just and reasonable under the relative
circumstances, the court shall take into consideration the need for
the award to enable each party, to the extent practical, to have
sufficient financial resources to present the party's case
adequately, taking into consideration, to the extent relevant, the
circumstances of the respective parties described in Section 4320.
The fact that the party requesting an award of attorney's fees and
costs has resources from which the party could pay the party's own
attorney's fees and costs is not itself a bar to an order that the
other party pay part or all of the fees and costs requested.
Financial resources are only one factor for the court to consider in
determining how to apportion the overall cost of the litigation
equitably between the parties under their relative circumstances.
   (c) The court may order payment of an award of attorney's fees and
costs from any type of property, whether community or separate,
principal or income.
   (d) Either party may, at any time before the hearing of the cause
on the merits, on noticed motion, request the court to make a finding
that the case involves complex or substantial issues of fact or law
related to property rights, visitation, custody, or support. Upon
that finding, the court may in its discretion determine the
appropriate, equitable allocation of attorney's fees, court costs,
expert fees, and consultant fees between the parties. The court order
may provide for the allocation of separate or community assets,
security against these assets, and for payments from income or
anticipated income of either party for the purpose described in this
subdivision and for the benefit of one or both parties. Payments
shall be authorized only on agreement of the parties or, in the
absence thereof, by court order. The court may order that a referee
be appointed pursuant to Section 639 of the Code of Civil Procedure
to oversee the allocation of fees and costs.
  SEC. 6.  Section 2034 of the Family Code is amended to read:
   2034.  (a) On application of either party, the court may deny the
family law attorney's real property lien described in Section 2033
based on a finding that the encumbrance would likely result in an
unequal division of property because it would impair the encumbering
party's ability to meet his or her fair share of the community
obligations or would otherwise be unjust under the circumstances of
the case. The court may also for good cause limit the amount of the
family law attorney's real property lien. A limitation by the court
is not to be construed as a determination of reasonable attorney's
fees.
   (b) On receiving an objection to the establishment of a family law
attorney's real property lien, the court may on its own motion
determine whether the case involves complex or substantial issues of
fact or law related to property rights, visitation, custody, or
support. If the court finds that the case involves one or more of
these complex or substantial issues, the court may determine the
appropriate, equitable allocation of fees and costs as provided in
subdivision (d) of Section 2032.
   (c) The court has jurisdiction to resolve any dispute arising from
the existence of a family law attorney's real property lien.
  SEC. 7.  Section 2330.3 of the Family Code is amended to read:
   2330.3.  (a) All dissolution actions, to the greatest extent
possible, shall be assigned to the same superior court department for
all purposes, in order that all decisions in a case through final
judgment shall be made by the same judicial officer. However, if the
assignment will result in a significant delay of any family law
matter, the dissolution action need not be assigned to the same
superior court department for all purposes, unless the parties
stipulate otherwise.
   (b) The Judicial Council shall adopt a standard of judicial
administration prescribing a minimum length of assignment of a
judicial officer to a family law assignment.
   (c) This section shall be operative on July 1, 1997.
  SEC. 8.  Section 2400 of the Family Code is amended to read:
   2400.  (a) A marriage may be dissolved by the summary dissolution
procedure provided in this chapter if all of the following conditions
exist at the time the proceeding is commenced:
   (1) Either party has met the jurisdictional requirements of
Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 2320) with regard to dissolution
of marriage.
   (2) Irreconcilable differences have caused the irremediable
breakdown of the marriage and the marriage should be dissolved.
   (3) There are no children of the relationship of the parties born
before or during the marriage or adopted by the parties during the
marriage, and the wife, to her knowledge, is not pregnant.
   (4) The marriage is not more than five years in duration as of the
date of separation of the parties.
   (5) Neither party has any interest in real property wherever
situated, with the exception of the lease of a residence occupied by
either party which satisfies the following requirements:
   (A) The lease does not include an option to purchase.
   (B) The lease terminates within one year from the date of the
filing of the petition.
   (6) There are no unpaid obligations in excess of four thousand
dollars ($4,000) incurred by either or both of the parties after the
date of their marriage, excluding the amount of any unpaid obligation
with respect to an automobile.
   (7) The total fair market value of community property assets,
excluding all encumbrances and automobiles, including any deferred
compensation or retirement plan, is less than twenty-five thousand
dollars ($25,000), and neither party has separate property assets,
excluding all encumbrances and automobiles, in excess of twenty-five
thousand dollars ($25,000).
   (8) The parties have executed an agreement setting forth the
division of assets and the assumption of liabilities of the
community, and have executed any documents, title certificates, bills
of sale, or other evidence of transfer necessary to effectuate the
agreement.
   (9) The parties waive any rights to spousal support.
   (10) The parties, upon entry of the judgment of dissolution of
marriage pursuant to Section 2403, irrevocably waive their respective
rights to appeal and their rights to move for a new trial.
   (11) The parties have read and understand the summary dissolution
brochure provided for in Section 2406.
   (12) The parties desire that the court dissolve the marriage.
   (b) On January 1, 1985, and on January 1 of each odd-numbered year
thereafter, the amounts in paragraph (6) of subdivision (a) shall be
adjusted to reflect any change in the value of the dollar. On
January 1, 1993, and on January 1 of each odd-numbered year
thereafter, the amounts in paragraph (7) of subdivision (a) shall be
adjusted to reflect any change in the value of the dollar. The
adjustments shall be made by multiplying the base amounts by the
percentage change in the California Consumer Price Index as compiled
by the Department of Industrial Relations, with the result rounded to
the nearest thousand dollars. The Judicial Council shall compute and
publish the amounts.
  SEC. 9.  Section 2403 of the Family Code is amended to read:
   2403.  When six months have expired from the date of the filing of
the joint petition for summary dissolution, the court shall, unless
a revocation has been filed pursuant to Section 2402, enter the
judgment dissolving the marriage. The judgment restores to the
parties the status of single persons, and either party may marry
after the entry of the judgment. The clerk shall send a notice of
entry of judgment to each of the parties at the party's last known
address.
  SEC. 10.  Section 2450 of the Family Code is amended to read:
   2450.  (a) The purpose of family centered case resolution is to
benefit the parties by providing judicial assistance and management
to the parties in actions for dissolution of marriage for the purpose
of expediting the processing of the case, reducing the expense of
litigation, and focusing on early resolution by settlement. Family
centered case resolution is a tool to allow the courts to better
assist families. It does not increase the authority of the court to
appoint any third parties to the case.
   (b) The court may order a family centered case resolution plan as
provided in Section 2451. If the court orders family centered case
resolution, it shall state the family centered case resolution plan
in writing or on the record.
  SEC. 11.  Section 2451 of the Family Code is amended to read:
   2451.  (a) A court-ordered family centered case resolution plan
must be in conformance with due process requirements and may include,
but is not limited to, all of the following:
   (1) Early neutral case evaluation.
   (2) Alternative dispute resolution consistent with the
requirements of subdivision (a) of Section 3181.
   (3) Limitations on discovery, including temporary suspension
pending exploration of settlement. There is a rebuttable presumption
that an attorney who carries out discovery as provided in a family
centered case resolution plan has fulfilled his or her duty of care
to the client as to the existence of community property.
   (4) Use of telephone conference calls to ascertain the status of
the case, encourage cooperation, and assist counsel in reaching
agreement. However, if the court is required to issue an order other
than by stipulation, a hearing shall be held.
   (5) If stipulated by the parties, modification or waiver of the
requirements of procedural statutes.
   (6) A requirement that any expert witness be selected by the
parties jointly or be appointed by the court. However, if at any time
the court determines that the issues for which experts are required
cannot be settled under these conditions, the court shall permit each
party to employ his or her own expert.
   (7) Bifurcation of issues for trial.
   (b) This section does not provide any additional authority to the
court to appoint experts beyond that permitted under other provisions
of law.
   (c) The Judicial Council shall, by January 1, 2012, adopt a
statewide rule of court to implement this section.
   (d) The changes made to this section by the act adding this
subdivision shall become operative on January 1, 2012.
  SEC. 12.  Section 3027 of the Family Code is amended to read:
   3027.  (a) If allegations of child abuse, including child sexual
abuse, are made during a child custody proceeding and the court has
concerns regarding the child's safety, the court may take any
reasonable, temporary steps as the court, in its discretion, deems
appropriate under the circumstances to protect the child's safety
until an investigation can be completed. Nothing in this section
shall affect the applicability of Section 16504 or 16506 of the
Welfare and Institutions Code.
   (b) If allegations of child abuse, including child sexual abuse,
are made during a child custody proceeding, the court may request
that the local child welfare services agency conduct an investigation
of the allegations pursuant to Section 328 of the Welfare and
Institutions Code. Upon completion of the investigation, the agency
shall report its findings to the court.
  SEC. 13.  Section 3121 of the Family Code is amended to read:
   3121.  (a) In any proceeding pursuant to Section 3120, and in any
proceeding subsequent to entry of a related judgment, the court shall
ensure that each party has access to legal representation, including
access early in the proceedings, to preserve each party's rights by
ordering, if necessary based on the income and needs assessments, one
party, except a government entity, to pay to the other party, or to
the other party's attorney, whatever amount is reasonably necessary
for attorney's fees and for the cost of maintaining or defending the
proceeding during the pendency of the proceeding.
   (b) When a request for attorney's fees and costs is made, the
court shall make findings on whether an award of attorney's fees and
costs under this section is appropriate, whether there is a disparity
in access to funds to retain counsel, and whether one party is able
to pay for legal representation of both parties. If the findings
demonstrate disparity in access and ability to pay, the court shall
make an order awarding attorney's fees and costs. A party who lacks
the financial ability to hire an attorney may request, as an in pro
per litigant, that the court order the other party, if that other
party has the financial ability, to pay a reasonable amount to allow
the unrepresented party to retain an attorney in a timely manner
before proceedings in the matter go forward.
   (c) Attorney's fees and costs within this section may be awarded
for legal services rendered or costs incurred before or after the
commencement of the proceeding.
   (d) The court shall augment or modify the original award for
attorney's fees and costs as may be reasonably necessary for the
prosecution or defense of a proceeding described in Section 3120, or
any proceeding related thereto, including after any appeal has been
concluded.
   (e) Except as provided in subdivision (f), an application for a
temporary order making, augmenting, or modifying an award of attorney'
s fees, including a reasonable retainer to hire an attorney, or
costs, or both, shall be made by motion on notice or by an order to
show cause during the pendency of any proceeding described in Section
3120.
   (f) The court shall rule on an application for fees under this
section within 15 days of the hearing on the motion or order to show
cause. An order described in subdivision (a) may be made without
notice by an oral motion in open court at either of the following
times:
   (1) At the time of the hearing of the cause on the merits.
   (2) At any time before entry of judgment against a party whose
default has been entered pursuant to Section 585 or 586 of the Code
of Civil Procedure. The court shall rule on any motion made pursuant
to this subdivision within 15 days and prior to the entry of any
judgment.
   (g) The Judicial Council shall, by January 1, 2012, adopt a
statewide rule of court to implement this section and develop a form
for the information that shall be submitted to the court to obtain an
award of attorney's fees under this section.
  SEC. 14.  Section 3150 of the Family Code is amended to read:
   3150.  (a) If the court determines that it would be in the best
interest of the minor child, the court may appoint private counsel to
represent the interests of the child in a custody or visitation
proceeding, provided that the court and counsel comply with the
requirements set forth in Rules 5.240, 5.241, and 5.242 of the
California Rules of Court.
   (b) Upon entering an appearance on behalf of a child pursuant to
this chapter, counsel shall continue to represent that child unless
relieved by the court upon the substitution of other counsel by the
court or for cause.
  SEC. 15.  Section 3151 of the Family Code is amended to read:
   3151.  (a) The child's counsel appointed under this chapter is
charged with the representation of the child's best interests. The
role of the child's counsel is to gather evidence that bears on the
best interests of the child, and present that admissible evidence to
the court in any manner appropriate for the counsel of a party. If
the child so desires, the child's counsel shall present the child's
wishes to the court. The counsel's duties, unless under the
circumstances it is inappropriate to exercise the duty, include
interviewing the child, reviewing the court files and all accessible
relevant records available to both parties, and making any further
investigations as the counsel considers necessary to ascertain
evidence relevant to the custody or visitation hearings.
   (b) Counsel shall serve notices and pleadings on all parties,
consistent with requirements for parties. Counsel shall not be called
as a witness in the proceeding. Counsel may introduce and examine
counsel's own witnesses, present arguments to the court concerning
the child's welfare, and participate further in the proceeding to the
degree necessary to represent the child adequately.
   (c) The child's counsel shall have the following rights:
   (1) Reasonable access to the child.
   (2) Standing to seek affirmative relief on behalf of the child.
   (3) Notice of any proceeding, and all phases of that proceeding,
including a request for examination affecting the child.
   (4) The right to take any action that is available to a party to
the proceeding, including, but not limited to, the following: filing
pleadings, making evidentiary objections, and presenting evidence and
being heard in the proceeding, which may include, but shall not be
limited to, presenting motions and orders to show cause, and
participating in settlement conferences, trials, seeking writs,
appeals, and arbitrations.
   (5) Access to the child's medical, dental, mental health, and
other health care records, school and educational records, and the
right to interview school personnel, caretakers, health care
providers, mental health professionals, and others who have assessed
the child or provided care to the child. The release of this
information to counsel shall not constitute a waiver of the
confidentiality of the reports, files, and any disclosed
communications.                                          Counsel may
interview mediators; however, the provisions of Sections 3177 and
3182 shall apply.
   (6) The right to reasonable advance notice of and the right to
refuse any physical or psychological examination or evaluation, for
purposes of the proceeding, which has not been ordered by the court.
   (7) The right to assert or waive any privilege on behalf of the
child.
   (8) The right to seek independent psychological or physical
examination or evaluation of the child for purposes of the pending
proceeding, upon approval by the court.
  SEC. 16.  Section 3183 of the Family Code is amended to read:
   3183.  (a) Except as provided in Section 3188, the mediator may,
consistent with local court rules, submit a recommendation to the
court as to the custody of or visitation with the child, if the
mediator has first provided the parties and their attorneys,
including counsel for any minor children, with the recommendations in
writing in advance of the hearing. The court shall make an inquiry
at the hearing as to whether the parties and their attorneys have
received the recommendations in writing. If the mediator is
authorized to submit a recommendation to the court pursuant to this
subdivision, the mediation and recommendation process shall be
referred to as "child custody recommending counseling" and the
mediator shall be referred to as a "child custody recommending
counselor." Mediators who make those recommendations are considered
mediators for purposes of Chapter 11 (commencing with Section 3160),
and shall be subject to all requirements for mediators for all
purposes under this code and the California Rules of Court. On and
after January 1, 2012, all court communications and information
regarding the child custody recommending counseling process shall
reflect the change in the name of the process and the name of the
providers.
   (b) If the parties have not reached agreement as a result of the
mediation proceedings, the mediator may recommend to the court that
an investigation be conducted pursuant to Chapter 6 (commencing with
Section 3110) or that other services be offered to assist the parties
to effect a resolution of the controversy before a hearing on the
issues.
   (c) In appropriate cases, the mediator may recommend that
restraining orders be issued, pending determination of the
controversy, to protect the well-being of the child involved in the
controversy.
  SEC. 17.  Section 3557 of the Family Code is amended to read:
   3557.  (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, absent good
cause to the contrary, the court, in order to ensure that each party
has access to legal representation to preserve each party's rights,
upon determining (1) an award of attorney's fees and cost under this
section is appropriate, (2) there is a disparity in access to funds
to retain counsel, and (3) one party is able to pay for legal
representation for both parties, shall award reasonable attorney's
fees to any of the following persons:
   (1) A custodial parent or other person to whom payments should be
made in any action to enforce any of the following:
   (A) An existing order for child support.
   (B) A penalty incurred pursuant to Chapter 5 (commencing with
Section 4720) of Part 5 of Division 9.
   (2) A supported spouse in an action to enforce an existing order
for spousal support.
   (b) This section shall not be construed to allow an award of
attorney's fees to or against a governmental entity.
  SEC. 18.  Section 6323 of the Family Code is amended to read:
   6323.  (a) Subject to Section 3064:
   (1) The court may issue an ex parte order determining the
temporary custody and visitation of a minor child on the conditions
the court determines to a party who has established a parent and
child relationship pursuant to paragraph (2). The parties shall
inform the court if any custody or visitation orders have already
been issued in any other proceeding.
   (2) (A) In making a determination of the best interests of the
child and in order to limit the child's exposure to potential
domestic violence and to ensure the safety of all family members, if
the party who has obtained the restraining order has established a
parent and child relationship and the other party has not established
that relationship, the court may award temporary sole legal and
physical custody to the party to whom the restraining order was
issued and may make an order of no visitation to the other party
pending the establishment of a parent and child relationship between
the child and the other party.
   (B) A party may establish a parent and child relationship for
purposes of subparagraph (A) only by offering proof of any of the
following:
   (i) The party gave birth to the child.
   (ii) The child is conclusively presumed to be a child of the
marriage between the parties, pursuant to Section 7540, or the party
has been determined by a court to be a parent of the child, pursuant
to Section 7541.
   (iii) Legal adoption or pending legal adoption of the child by the
party.
   (iv) The party has signed a valid voluntary declaration of
paternity, which has been in effect more than 60 days prior to the
issuance of the restraining order, and that declaration has not been
rescinded or set aside.
   (v) A determination made by the juvenile court that there is a
parent and child relationship between the party offering the proof
and the child.
   (vi) A determination of paternity made in a proceeding to
determine custody or visitation in a case brought by the district
attorney pursuant to Section 11350.1 of the Welfare and Institutions
Code.
   (vii) The party has been determined to be the parent of the child
through a proceeding under the Uniform Parentage Act (Part 3
(commencing with Section 7600) of Division 12).
   (viii) Both parties stipulate, in writing or on the record, for
purposes of this proceeding, that they are the parents of the child.
   (b) (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), the court shall not
make a finding of paternity in this proceeding, and any order issued
pursuant to this section shall be without prejudice in any other
action brought to establish a parent and child relationship.
   (2) The court may accept a stipulation of paternity by the parties
and, if paternity is uncontested, enter a judgment establishing
paternity, subject to the set-aside provisions in Section 7646.
   (c) When making any order for custody or visitation pursuant to
this section, the court's order shall specify the time, day, place,
and manner of transfer of the child for custody or visitation to
limit the child's exposure to potential domestic conflict or violence
and to ensure the safety of all family members. Where the court
finds a party is staying in a place designated as a shelter for
victims of domestic violence or other confidential location, the
court's order for time, day, place, and manner of transfer of the
child for custody or visitation shall be designed to prevent
disclosure of the location of the shelter or other confidential
location.
   (d) When making an order for custody or visitation pursuant to
this section, the court shall consider whether the best interest of
the child, based upon the circumstances of the case, requires that
any visitation or custody arrangement shall be limited to situations
in which a third person, specified by the court, is present, or
whether visitation or custody shall be suspended or denied.
  SEC. 19.  Section 6340 of the Family Code is amended to read:
   6340.  (a) The court may issue any of the orders described in
Article 1 (commencing with Section 6320) after notice and a hearing.
When determining whether to make any orders under this subdivision,
the court shall consider whether failure to make any of these orders
may jeopardize the safety of the petitioner and the children for whom
the custody or visitation orders are sought. If the court makes any
order for custody, visitation, or support, that order shall survive
the termination of any protective order. The Judicial Council shall
provide notice of this provision on any Judicial Council forms
related to this subdivision.
   (b) The court may issue an order described in Section 6321
excluding a person from a dwelling if the court finds that physical
or emotional harm would otherwise result to the other party, to a
person under the care, custody, and control of the other party, or to
a minor child of the parties or of the other party.
  SEC. 20.  Section 328 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is
amended to read:
   328.  Whenever the social worker has cause to believe that there
was or is within the county, or residing therein, a person described
in Section 300, the social worker shall immediately make any
investigation he or she deems necessary to determine whether child
welfare services should be offered to the family and whether
proceedings in the juvenile court should be commenced. If the social
worker determines that it is appropriate to offer child welfare
services to the family, the social worker shall make a referral to
these services pursuant to Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 16500)
of Part 4 of Division 9. No inference regarding the credibility of
the allegations or the need for child welfare services shall be drawn
from the mere existence of a child custody or visitation dispute.
   However, this section does not require an investigation by the
social worker with respect to a child delivered or referred to any
agency pursuant to Section 307.5.
   The social worker shall interview any child four years of age or
older who is a subject of an investigation, and who is in juvenile
hall or other custodial facility, or has been removed to a foster
home, to ascertain the child's view of the home environment. If
proceedings are commenced, the social worker shall include the
substance of the interview in any written report submitted at an
adjudicatory hearing, or if no report is then received in evidence,
the social worker shall include the substance of the interview in the
social study required by Section 358. A referral based on
allegations of child abuse from the family court pursuant to Section
3027 of the Family Code shall be investigated to the same extent as
any other child abuse allegation.
  SEC. 21.  Section 827.10 is added to the Welfare and Institutions
Code, to read:
   827.10.  (a) Notwithstanding Section 827, the child welfare agency
is authorized to permit its files and records relating to a minor,
who is the subject of either a family law or a probate guardianship
case involving custody or visitation issues, or both, to be inspected
by, and to provide copies to, the following persons, if these
persons are actively participating in the family law or probate case:

   (1) The judge, commissioner, or other hearing officer assigned to
the family law or probate case.
   (2) The parent or guardian of the minor.
   (3) An attorney for a party to the family law or probate case.
   (4) A family court mediator assigned to a case involving the minor
pursuant to Article 1 (commencing with Section 3160) of Chapter 11
of Part 2 of Division 8 of the Family Code.
   (5) A court-appointed investigator, evaluator, or a person
conducting a court-connected child custody evaluation, investigation,
or assessment pursuant to Section 3111 or 3118 of the Family Code or
Part 2 (commencing with Section 1500) of Division 4 of the Probate
Code.
   (6) Counsel appointed for the minor in the family law case
pursuant to Section 3150 of the Family Code. Prior to allowing
counsel appointed for the minor in the family law case to inspect the
file, the court clerk may require counsel to provide a certified
copy of the court order appointing him or her as the counsel for the
minor.
   (b) If the child welfare agency files or records, or any portions
thereof, are privileged or confidential pursuant to any other state
law, except Section 827, or federal law or regulation, the
requirements of that state law or federal law or regulation
prohibiting or limiting release of the child welfare agency files or
records, or any portions thereof, shall prevail.
   (c) A social worker may testify in any family or probate
proceeding with regard to any information that may be disclosed under
this section.
   (d) Any records or information obtained pursuant to this section,
including the testimony of a social worker, shall be maintained
solely in the confidential portion of the family law or probate file.