BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






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          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                        SB 917|
          |Office of Senate Floor Analyses   |                              |
          |(916) 651-1520    Fax: (916)      |                              |
          |327-4478                          |                              |
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                                   THIRD READING 


          Bill No:  SB 917
          Author:   Jackson (D) 
          Amended:  5/31/16  
          Vote:     21 

           SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE:  6-0, 4/12/16
           AYES:  Jackson, Moorlach, Hertzberg, Leno, Monning, Wieckowski
           NO VOTE RECORDED:  Anderson

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE:  7-0, 5/27/16
           AYES:  Lara, Bates, Beall, Hill, McGuire, Mendoza, Nielsen

           SUBJECT:   Family law:  court orders


          SOURCE:    Author

          DIGEST:   This bill, beginning July 1, 2017, requires the court,  
          within two days after the conclusion of any family law hearing,  
          to provide the parties with a detailed, official order setting  
          forth the basic terms of any orders made at that hearing, and  
          additionally requires the Judicial Council to adopt a rule of  
          court and any forms necessary to implement the provisions of  
          this bill by January 1, 2018.  


          ANALYSIS:  


          Existing law:


          1)Authorizes a court to prepare an order after a hearing and  








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            serve copies on the parties or their attorneys or order a  
            party to prepare an order.  (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 5.125.)


          2)Provides timelines and procedures for the preparation and  
            service of orders, but allows courts to modify those timelines  
            or procedures when appropriate to the case. (Cal. Rules of  
            Court, rule 5.125.)


          This bill:


          1)Requires the court, within two days after the conclusion of a  
            hearing under the Family Code, to provide each party present  
            at the hearing with a detailed, official order setting forth  
            the basic terms of any orders that were made at the hearing. 


          2)Does not require the court to prepare or provide a judgment of  
            dissolution, legal separation, nullity, or parentage.


          3)Does not preclude the court from requiring parties to submit  
            orders, or from accepting proposed orders or stipulations for  
            orders from the parties or counsel at the time of the hearing.  



          4)Allows the court to permit parties or counsel to submit more  
            detailed orders after the hearing.


          5)Requires, on or before July 1, 2018, the Judicial Council to  
            adopt a rule of court or any forms necessary to implement this  
            bill.


          Background


          Family law affects many critical and deeply personal aspects of  
          a person's life including child custody, personal safety, the  
          amount of child and spousal support one person will receive and  







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          the other will pay, and how assets will be divided between  
          separating parties.  These decisions have significant and  
          lasting impacts on the lives of the parties involved.  The  
          thousands of cases heard every week in California's family law  
          courtrooms demonstrate the importance that families place on the  
          ability of the courts to resolve disputes peacefully and with  
          finality. 


          California's family courts have always strived to make effective  
          use of available resources while still meeting the changing  
          needs of families.  However, while the number of cases filed in  
          the family law courts have steadily increased, the resources  
          devoted to processing and hearing those cases have not.  In  
          2010, the Elkins Family Law Task Force conducted a comprehensive  
          review of family law proceedings and published a report that  
          included a number of recommendations to the Judicial Council of  
          California, aimed at increasing access to justice for all family  
          law litigants, ensuring fairness and due process, and providing  
          for more effective and consistent family law rule, policies, and  
          procedures. 


          Implementation of the recommendations has been less than uniform  
          for a number of reasons, but has stalled in large part because  
          of the budget cutbacks resulting from California's recession. In  
          most counties, courts have attempted to distribute the impact of  
          the budget cuts by reducing funding across the board.  In no  
          area have the cuts been felt more deeply than in the area of  
          family law, which has traditionally been underfunded and where  
          the vast majority of litigants are self-represented.  Such  
          self-represented litigants are disproportionately affected by  
          the lack of resources, especially court reporters.  Without a  
          record, these parties struggle to understand the specifics of  
          orders, often made verbally in court.  


          To ensure that litigants have the opportunity and ability to  
          understand and follow orders made at family law hearings, this  
          bill requires the court, within two court days after the  
          conclusion of a hearing, to provide the parties with a detailed,  
          official order setting forth the basic terms of any orders made  
          at the hearing. This bill intentionally leaves the method by  
          which a court may create and distribute these orders to parties  







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          open, thereby allowing individual counties to adopt appropriate  
          local practices, and requires the Judicial Council to adopt a  
          Rule of Court implementing the provisions of the bill and any  
          necessary forms by January 1, 2018.


          FISCAL EFFECT:   Appropriation:    No          Fiscal  
          Com.:YesLocal:   No


          According to the Senate Appropriations Committee, major costs,  
          potentially in the millions of dollars (General Fund*) for case  
          management systems and system upgrades in order to enable the  
          trial courts to provide a written order at the conclusion of  
          each family law hearing. Although a few courts provide access to  
          a copy of orders within one day, it is not known if there are  
          any courts that currently comply with the requirements specified  
          in this bill. Given the 58 counties likely employ different  
          systems for conducting family law proceedings, costs for  
          compliance could vary widely.


          SUPPORT:   (Verified5/31/16)


          California Partnership to End Domestic Violence
          California Protective Parents Association




          OPPOSITION:   (Verified5/31/16)


          None received


          ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT:     The California Partnership to End  
          Domestic Violence writes: 


            Survivors of domestic violence access family courts for a  
            range of issues, including restraining orders, custody, and  
            divorce proceedings.  Nationwide, almost 70 percent of victims  







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            of domestic violence and sexual assault must appear in court  
            by themselves.  Without an attorney to help them navigate  
            through the often confusing and overwhelming process and  
            without a written order setting forth the basic terms of any  
            orders made, victims are left with incomplete information  
            about their cases, and with limited options.  It is essential  
            for all family court parties - including domestic violence  
            survivors - to have a written record of orders made during  
            hearings.


          Prepared by:Nichole Rapier / JUD. / (916) 651-4113
          5/31/16 21:31:48


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