Article 7. Hearing And Subsequent Proceedings of California Family Law Code >> Division 12. >> Part 4. >> Chapter 3. >> Article 7.
In a proceeding under this part, the court shall consider the
wishes of the child, bearing in mind the age of the child, and shall
act in the best interest of the child.
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, if the
child who is the subject of the petition is 10 years of age or older,
the child shall be heard by the court in chambers on at least the
(1) The feelings and thoughts of the child concerning the custody
proceeding about to take place.
(2) The feelings and thoughts of the child about the child's
parent or parents.
(3) The child's preference as to custody, according to Section
(b) The court shall inform the child of the child's right to
attend the hearing. However, counsel for the child may waive the
hearing in chambers by the court.
(c) This section does not apply if the child is confined because
of illness or other incapacity to an institution or residence and is
therefore unable to attend.
(a) The testimony of the child may be taken in chambers and
outside the presence of the child's parent or parents if the child's
parent or parents are represented by counsel, the counsel is present,
and any of the following circumstances exist:
(1) The court determines that testimony in chambers is necessary
to ensure truthful testimony.
(2) The child is likely to be intimidated by a formal courtroom
(3) The child is afraid to testify in front of the child's parent
(b) The testimony of a child also may be taken in chambers and
outside the presence of the guardian or guardians of a child under
the circumstances specified in subdivision (a).
(c) A finding pursuant to this section shall be supported by clear
and convincing evidence.
(d) After testimony in chambers, the parent or parents of the
child may elect to have the court reporter read back the testimony or
have the testimony summarized by counsel for the parent or parents.
The court shall not declare an Indian child free from the
custody or control of a parent, unless both of the following apply:
(a) The court finds, supported by clear and convincing evidence,
that active efforts were made in accordance with Section 361.7 of the
Welfare and Institutions Code.
(b) The court finds, supported by evidence beyond a reasonable
doubt, including testimony of one or more "qualified expert witnesses"
as described in Section 224.5 of the Welfare and Institutions Code,
that the continued custody of the child by the parent is likely to
result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child.
(c) This section shall only apply to proceedings involving an
(a) If the court, by order or judgment, declares a child free
from the custody and control of both parents under this part, or one
parent if the other no longer has custody and control, the court
shall at the same time take one of the following actions:
(1) Appoint a guardian for the child.
(2) At the request of the State Department of Social Services or a
licensed adoption agency, or where the court finds it is in the
child's best interest, refer the child to a licensed adoption agency
for adoptive placement by the agency.
(b) When the court refers the child to a licensed adoption agency
for adoptive placement by the agency:
(1) The agency is responsible for the care of the child and is
entitled to the exclusive custody and control of the child at all
times until a petition for adoption has been granted.
(2) After the referral, no petition for guardianship may be filed
without the consent of the agency.
(3) No petition for adoption may be heard until the appellate
rights of the natural parents have been exhausted.
(a) An order and judgment of the court declaring a child free
from the custody and control of a parent or parents under this part
is conclusive and binding upon the child, upon the parent or parents,
and upon all other persons who have been served with citations by
publication or otherwise as provided in this part.
(b) After making the order and judgment, the court has no power to
set aside, change, or modify it.
(c) Nothing in this section limits the right to appeal from the
order and judgment.
(a) Upon appeal from a judgment freeing a child who is a
dependent child of the juvenile court from parental custody and
control, the appellate court shall appoint counsel for the appellant
as provided by this section.
(b) Upon motion by the appellant and a finding that the appellant
is unable to afford counsel, the appellate court shall appoint
counsel for the indigent appellant, and appellant's counsel shall be
provided a free copy of the reporter's and clerk's transcript. All of
those costs are a charge against the court.
(c) The reporter's and clerk's transcripts shall be prepared and
transmitted immediately after filing of the notice of appeal, at
court expense and without advance payment of fees. If the appellant
is able to afford counsel, the court may seek reimbursement from the
appellant for the cost of the transcripts under subdivision (c) of
Section 68511.3 of the Government Code as though the appellant had
been granted permission to proceed in forma pauperis.