Division 14. Family Law Facilitator Act of California Family Law Code >> Division 14.
This division shall be known and may be cited as the Family
Law Facilitator Act.
(a) The Legislature finds and declares the following:
(1) Child and spousal support are serious legal obligations. The
entry of a child support order is frequently delayed while parents
engage in protracted litigation concerning custody and visitation.
The current system for obtaining child and spousal support orders is
suffering because the family courts are unduly burdened with heavy
case loads and do not have sufficient personnel to meet increased
demands on the courts.
(2) Reports to the Legislature regarding the family law pilot
projects in the Superior Courts of the Counties of Santa Clara and
San Mateo indicate that the pilot projects have provided a
cost-effective and efficient method for the courts to process family
law cases that involve unrepresented litigants with issues concerning
child support, spousal support, and health insurance.
(3) The reports to the Legislature further indicate that the pilot
projects in both counties have been successful in making the process
of obtaining court orders concerning child support, spousal support,
and health insurance more accessible to unrepresented parties.
Surveys conducted by both counties indicate a high degree of
satisfaction with the services provided by the pilot projects.
(4) There is a compelling state interest in having a speedy,
conflict-reducing system for resolving issues of child support,
spousal support, and health insurance that is cost-effective and
accessible to families that cannot afford legal representation.
(b) Therefore, it is the intent of the Legislature to make the
services provided in the family law pilot projects in the Counties of
Santa Clara and San Mateo available to unrepresented parties in the
superior courts of all California counties.
Each superior court shall maintain an office of the family
law facilitator. The office of the family law facilitator shall be
staffed by an attorney licensed to practice law in this state who has
mediation or litigation experience, or both, in the field of family
law. The family law facilitator shall be appointed by the superior
This division shall apply to all actions or proceedings for
temporary or permanent child support, spousal support, health
insurance, child custody, or visitation in a proceeding for
dissolution of marriage, nullity of marriage, legal separation, or
exclusive child custody, or pursuant to the Uniform Parentage Act
(Part 3 (commencing with Section 7600) of Division 12) or the
Domestic Violence Prevention Act (Division 10 (commencing with
Services provided by the family law facilitator shall
include, but are not limited to, the following: providing educational
materials to parents concerning the process of establishing
parentage and establishing, modifying, and enforcing child support
and spousal support in the courts; distributing necessary court forms
and voluntary declarations of paternity; providing assistance in
completing forms; preparing support schedules based upon statutory
guidelines; and providing referrals to the local child support
agency, family court services, and other community agencies and
resources that provide services for parents and children. In counties
where a family law information center exists, the family law
facilitator shall provide assistance on child support issues.
(a) By local rule, the superior court may designate
additional duties of the family law facilitator, which may include,
but are not limited to, the following:
(1) Meeting with litigants to mediate issues of child support,
spousal support, and maintenance of health insurance, subject to
Section 10012. Actions in which one or both of the parties are
unrepresented by counsel shall have priority.
(2) Drafting stipulations to include all issues agreed to by the
parties, which may include issues other than those specified in
(3) If the parties are unable to resolve issues with the
assistance of the family law facilitator, prior to or at the hearing,
and at the request of the court, the family law facilitator shall
review the paperwork, examine documents, prepare support schedules,
and advise the judge whether or not the matter is ready to proceed.
(4) Assisting the clerk in maintaining records.
(5) Preparing formal orders consistent with the court's announced
order in cases where both parties are unrepresented.
(6) Serving as a special master in proceedings and making findings
to the court unless he or she has served as a mediator in that case.
(7) Providing the services specified in Section 10004 concerning
the issues of child custody and visitation as they relate to
calculating child support, if funding is provided for that purpose.
(b) If staff and other resources are available and the duties
listed in subdivision (a) have been accomplished, the duties of the
family law facilitator may also include the following:
(1) Assisting the court with research and any other
responsibilities that will enable the court to be responsive to the
(2) Developing programs for bar and community outreach through day
and evening programs, video recordings, and other innovative means
that will assist unrepresented and financially disadvantaged
litigants in gaining meaningful access to family court. These
programs shall specifically include information concerning
underutilized legislation, such as expedited child support orders
(Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 3620) of Part 1 of Division 9),
and preexisting, court-sponsored programs, such as supervised
visitation and appointment of attorneys for children.
The court shall adopt a protocol wherein all litigants, both
unrepresented by counsel and represented by counsel, have ultimate
access to a hearing before the court.
The court shall provide the family law facilitator at no
cost to the parties.
(a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), nothing in this
chapter shall be construed to apply to a child for whom services are
provided or required to be provided by a local child support agency
pursuant to Section 17400.
(b) In cases in which the services of the local child support
agency are provided pursuant to Section 17400, either parent may
utilize the services of the family law facilitator that are specified
in Section 10004. In order for a custodial parent who is receiving
the services of the local child support agency pursuant to Section
17400 to utilize the services specified in Section 10005 relating to
support, the custodial parent must obtain written authorization from
the local child support agency. It is not the intent of the
Legislature in enacting this section to limit the duties of local
child support agencies with respect to seeking child support payments
or to in any way limit or supersede other provisions of this code
respecting temporary child support.
The Judicial Council shall adopt minimum standards for the
office of the family law facilitator and any forms or rules of court
that are necessary to implement this division.
The Director of the State Department of Social Services
shall seek approval from the United States Department of Health and
Human Services, Office of Child Support Enforcement, to utilize
funding under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act for the services
provided pursuant to this division.
(a) In a proceeding in which mediation is required pursuant
to paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 10005, where there has
been a history of domestic violence between the parties or where a
protective order as defined in Section 6218 is in effect, at the
request of the party alleging domestic violence in a written
declaration under penalty of perjury or protected by the order, the
family law facilitator shall meet with the parties separately and at
(b) Any intake form that the office of the family law facilitator
requires the parties to complete before the commencement of mediation
shall state that, if a party alleging domestic violence in a written
declaration under penalty of perjury or a party protected by a
protective order so requests, the mediator will meet with the parties
separately and at separate times.
The family law facilitator shall not represent any party. No
attorney-client relationship is created between a party and the
family law facilitator as a result of any information or services
provided to the party by the family law facilitator. The family law
facilitator shall give conspicuous notice that no attorney-client
relationship exists between the facilitator, its staff, and the
family law litigant. The notice shall include the advice that the
absence of an attorney-client relationship means that communications
between the party and the family law facilitator are not privileged
and that the family law facilitator may provide services to the other
A person employed by, or directly supervised by, the family
law facilitator shall not make any public comment about a pending or
impending proceeding in the court as provided by paragraph (9) of
subdivision (B) of Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Ethics. All
persons employed by or directly supervised by the family law
facilitator shall be provided a copy of paragraph (9) of subdivision
(B) of Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Ethics, and shall be required
to sign an acknowledgment that he or she is aware of its provisions.
The Judicial Council shall create any necessary forms to
advise the parties of the types of services provided, that there is
no attorney-client relationship, that the family law facilitator is
not responsible for the outcome of any case, that the family law
facilitator does not represent any party and will not appear in court
on the party's behalf, and that the other party may also be
receiving information and services from the family law facilitator.