Chapter 2. Family Conciliation Courts of California Family Law Code >> Division 5. >> Part 1. >> Chapter 2.
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
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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
When superior courts by contract have established joint family
conciliation court services, the contracting courts 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
(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 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
(d) The classification and salaries of persons appointed under
this section shall be determined by:
(1) The superior court of the county in which a noncontracting
family conciliation court operates.
(2) The superior court of the county which by contract has the
responsibility to administer funds of the joint family conciliation
(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
(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
(7) Training in domestic violence issues as described in Section
(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.
(a) For purposes of this section, the following definitions
(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
(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
(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
(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
(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
(E) Considering the impact of the evaluation report and
recommendations with particular attention to the dynamics of domestic
(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
(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
(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
(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
(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
(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.
The probation officer in every county shall do all of the
(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
(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.
(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.
(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).
(a) A court may contract with any other court or courts to
provide joint family conciliation court services.
(b) An agreement between two or more courts for the operation of a
joint family conciliation court service may provide that one
participating court shall be the custodian of moneys made available
for the purposes of the joint services, and that the custodian court
may make payments from the moneys upon audit of the appropriate
auditing officer or body of the court.
(c) An agreement between two or more courts 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 court under contract for the other
(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, shall be
considered to be employees of one participating court.
(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 court shall be equally applicable
to courts which contract, pursuant to this section, to provide joint
family conciliation court services.