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CALIFORNIA STATUTES AND RULES OF COURT RELEVANT TO ONGOING EDUCATION FOR EVALUATORS

Last Updated: 8/26/12

Statutes Relevant to Evaluator Training:
California Family Code
1815
1816
3110
3110.5
3111
3042
Rules of Court Relevant to Evaluator Training:
California Rules of Court
5.220
5.225
5.230
5.250


CALIFORNIA FAMILY CODE

 

§1815.  (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
families.
   (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
children.
   (7) Training in domestic violence issues as described in Section
1816.
   (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.


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§1816.  (a)  For purposes of this section, the following definitions
apply:
   (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
training.
   (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
domestic violence.
   (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
resources.
   (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
personnel.
   (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
Section 3113.
   (E) Considering the impact of the evaluation report and
recommendations with particular attention to the dynamics of domestic
violence.
   (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
children.
   (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
violence cases.
   (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
the following:
   (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
training provider.
   (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
court rule.
   (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.


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§3110.  As used in this chapter, "court-appointed investigator" means
a probation officer, domestic relations investigator, or
court-appointed evaluator directed by the court to conduct an
investigation pursuant to this chapter.


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§3110.5.  (a) No person may be a court-connected or private child
custody evaluator under this chapter unless the person has completed
the domestic violence and child abuse training program described in
Section 1816 and has complied with Rules 5.220 and 5.230 of the
California Rules of Court.
   (b) (1) On or before January 1, 2002, the Judicial Council shall
formulate a statewide rule of court that establishes education,
experience, and training requirements for all child custody
evaluators appointed pursuant to this chapter, Section 730 of the
Evidence Code, or Chapter 15 (commencing with Section 2032.010) of
Title 4 of Part 4 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
   (A) The rule shall require a child custody evaluator to declare
under penalty of perjury that he or she meets all of the education,
experience, and training requirements specified in the rule and, if
applicable, possesses a license in good standing. The Judicial
Council shall establish forms to implement this section. The rule
shall permit court-connected evaluators to conduct evaluations if
they meet all of the qualifications established by the Judicial
Council. The education, experience, and training requirements to be
specified for court-connected evaluators shall include, but not be
limited to, knowledge of the psychological and developmental needs of
children and parent-child relationships.
   (B) The rule shall require all evaluators to utilize comparable
interview, assessment, and testing procedures for all parties that
are consistent with generally accepted clinical, forensic,
scientific, diagnostic, or medical standards. The rule shall also
require evaluators to inform each adult party of the purpose, nature,
and method of the evaluation.
   (C) The rule may allow courts to permit the parties to stipulate
to an evaluator of their choosing with the approval of the court
under the circumstances set forth in subdivision (d). The rule may
require courts to provide general information about how parties can
contact qualified child custody evaluators in their county.
   (2) On or before January 1, 2004, the Judicial Council shall
include in the statewide rule of court created pursuant to this
section a requirement that all court-connected and private child
custody evaluators receive training in the nature of child sexual
abuse. The Judicial Council shall develop standards for this training
that shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
   (A) Children's patterns of hiding and disclosing sexual abuse
occurring in a family setting.
   (B) The effects of sexual abuse on children.
   (C) The nature and extent of child sexual abuse.
   (D) The social and family dynamics of child sexual abuse.
   (E) Techniques for identifying and assisting families affected by
child sexual abuse.
   (F) Legal rights, protections, and remedies available to victims
of child sexual abuse.
   (c) In addition to the education, experience, and training
requirements established by the Judicial Council pursuant to
subdivision (b), on or after January 1, 2005, no person may be a
child custody evaluator under this chapter, Section 730 of the
Evidence Code, or Chapter 15 (commencing with Section 2032.010) of
Title 4 of Part 4 of the Code of Civil Procedure unless the person
meets one of the following criteria:
   (1) He or she is licensed as a physician under Chapter 5
(commencing with Section 2000) of Division 2 of the Business and
Professions Code and either is a board certified psychiatrist or has
completed a residency in psychiatry.
   (2) He or she is licensed as a psychologist under Chapter 6.6
(commencing with Section 2900) of Division 2 of the Business and
Professions Code.
   (3) He or she is licensed as a marriage and family therapist under
Chapter 13 (commencing with Section 4980) of Division 2 of the
Business and Professions Code.
   (4) He or she is licensed as a clinical social worker under
Article 4 (commencing with Section 4996) of Chapter 14 of Division 2
of the Business and Professions Code.
   (5) He or she is a court-connected evaluator who has been
certified by the court as meeting all of the qualifications for
court-connected evaluators as specified by the Judicial Council
pursuant to subdivision (b).
   (d) Subdivision (c) does not apply in any case where the court
determines that there are no evaluators who meet the criteria of
subdivision (c) who are willing and available, within a reasonable
period of time, to perform child custody evaluations. In those cases,
the parties may stipulate to an individual who does not meet the
criteria of subdivision (c), subject to approval by the court.
   (e) A child custody evaluator who is licensed by the Medical Board
of California, the Board of Psychology, or the Board of Behavioral
Sciences shall be subject to disciplinary action by that board for
unprofessional conduct, as defined in the licensing law applicable to
that licensee.
   (f) On or after January 1, 2005, a court-connected or private
child custody evaluator may not evaluate, investigate, or mediate an
issue of child custody in a proceeding pursuant to this division
unless that person has completed child sexual abuse training as
required by this section.


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§3111.  (a) In any contested proceeding involving child custody or
visitation rights, the court may appoint a child custody evaluator to
conduct a child custody evaluation in cases where the court
determines it is in the best interests of the child. The child
custody evaluation shall be conducted in accordance with the
standards adopted by the Judicial Council pursuant to Section 3117,
and all other standards adopted by the Judicial Council regarding
child custody evaluations. If directed by the court, the
court-appointed child custody evaluator shall file a written
confidential report on his or her evaluation. At least 10 days before
any hearing regarding custody of the child, the report shall be
filed with the clerk of the court in which the custody hearing will
be conducted and served on the parties or their attorneys, and any
other counsel appointed for the child pursuant to Section 3150. The
report may be considered by the court.
   (b) The report shall not be made available other than as provided
in subdivision (a), or as described in Section 204 of the Welfare and
Institutions Code or Section 1514.5 of the Probate Code. Any
information obtained from access to a juvenile court case file, as
defined in subdivision (e) of Section 827 of the Welfare and
Institutions Code, is confidential and shall only be disseminated as
provided by paragraph (4) of subdivision (a) of Section 827 of the
Welfare and Institutions Code.
   (c) The report may be received in evidence on stipulation of all
interested parties and is competent evidence as to all matters
contained in the report.
   (d) If the court determines that an unwarranted disclosure of a
written confidential report has been made, the court may impose a
monetary sanction against the disclosing party. The sanction shall be
in an amount sufficient to deter repetition of the conduct, and may
include reasonable attorney's fees, costs incurred, or both, unless
the court finds that the disclosing party acted with substantial
justification or that other circumstances make the imposition of the
sanction unjust. The court shall not impose a sanction pursuant to
this subdivision that imposes an unreasonable financial burden on the
party against whom the sanction is imposed. This subdivision shall
become operative on January 1, 2010.
   (e) The Judicial Council shall, by January 1, 2010, do the
following:
   (1) Adopt a form to be served with every child custody evaluation
report that informs the report recipient of the confidentiality of
the report and the potential consequences for the unwarranted
disclosure of the report.
   (2) Adopt a rule of court to require that, when a court-ordered
child custody evaluation report is served on the parties, the form
specified in paragraph (1) shall be included with the report.
   (f) For purposes of this section, a disclosure is unwarranted if
it is done either recklessly or maliciously, and is not in the best
interests of the child.

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§3042.  (a) If a child is of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent preference as to custody or visitation, the court shall consider, and give due weight to, the wishes of the child in making an order granting or modifying custody or visitation.
   (b) In addition to the requirements of subdivision (b) of Section 765 of the Evidence Code, the court shall control the examination of a child witness so as to protect the best interests of the child.
   (c) If the child is 14 years of age or older and wishes to address the court regarding custody or visitation, the child shall be permitted to do so, unless the court determines that doing so is not in the child's best interests. In that case, the court shall state its reasons for that finding on the record.
   (d) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to prevent a child who is less than 14 years of age from addressing the court regarding custody or visitation, if the court determines that is appropriate pursuant to the child's best interests.
   (e) If the court precludes the calling of any child as a witness, the court shall provide alternative means of obtaining input from the child and other information regarding the child's preferences.
   (f) To assist the court in determining whether the child wishes to express his or her preference or to provide other input regarding custody or visitation to the court, a minor's counsel, an evaluator, an investigator, or a mediator who provides recommendations to the judge pursuant to Section 3183 shall indicate to the judge that the child wishes to address the court, or the judge may make that inquiry in the absence of that request. A party or a party's attorney may also indicate to the judge that the child wishes to address the court or judge.
   (g) Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the child to express to the court his or her preference or to provide other input regarding custody or visitation.
   (h) The Judicial Council shall, no later than January 1, 2012, promulgate a rule of court establishing procedures for the examination of a child witness, and include guidelines on methods other than direct testimony for obtaining information or other input from the child regarding custody or visitation.
   (i) The changes made to subdivisions (a) to (g), inclusive, by the act adding this subdivision shall become operative on January 1, 2012.


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California Rules of Court

 

Rule 5.220. Court-ordered child custody evaluations

(a) Authority

This rule of court is adopted under Family Code sections 211 and 3117.

(Subd (a) amended effective January 1, 2007.)

(b) Purpose

Courts order child custody evaluations, investigations, and assessments to assist them in determining the health, safety, welfare, and best interest of children with regard to disputed custody and visitation issues. This rule governs both court-connected and private child custody evaluators appointed under Family Code section 3111, Evidence Code section 730, or Code of Civil Procedure section 2032.

(Subd (b) amended effective January 1, 2003.)

(c) Definitions

For purposes of this rule:

(1)A "child custody evaluator" is a court-appointed investigator as defined in Family Code section 3110.

(2)The "best interest of the child" is as defined in Family Code section 3011.

(3)A "child custody evaluation" is an expert investigation and analysis of the health, safety, welfare, and best interest of children with regard to disputed custody and visitation issues.

(4)A "full evaluation, investigation, or assessment" is a comprehensive examination of the health, safety, welfare, and best interest of the child.

(5)A "partial evaluation, investigation, or assessment" is an examination of the health, safety, welfare, and best interest of the child that is limited by court order in either time or scope.

(6)"Evaluation," "investigation," and "assessment" are synonymous.

(Subd (c) amended effective January 1, 2003.)

(d) Responsibility for evaluation services

(1)Each court must:

(A)Adopt a local rule by January 1, 2000, to:

(i)Implement this rule of court;

(ii)Determine whether a peremptory challenge to a court-appointed evaluator is allowed and when the challenge must be exercised. The rules must specify whether a family court services staff member, other county employee, a mental health professional, or all of them may be challenged;

(iii)Allow evaluators to petition the court to withdraw from a case;

(iv)Provide for acceptance of and response to complaints about an evaluator's performance; and

(v)Address ex parte communications.

(B)Give the evaluator, before the evaluation begins, a copy of the court order that specifies:

(i)The appointment of the evaluator under Evidence Code section 730, Family Code section 3110, or Code of Civil Procedure 2032; and

(ii)The purpose and scope of the evaluation.

(C)Require child custody evaluators to adhere to the requirements of this rule.

(D)Determine and allocate between the parties any fees or costs of the evaluation.

(2)The child custody evaluator must:

(A)Consider the health, safety, welfare, and best interest of the child within the scope and purpose of the evaluation as defined by the court order;

(B)Strive to minimize the potential for psychological trauma to children during the evaluation process; and

(C)Include in the initial meeting with each child an age-appropriate explanation of the evaluation process, including limitations on the confidentiality of the process.

(Subd (d) amended effective January 1, 2007; previously amended effective January 1, 2003.)

(e) Scope of evaluations

All evaluations must include:

(1)A written explanation of the process that clearly describes the:

(A)Purpose of the evaluation;

(B)Procedures used and the time required to gather and assess information and, if psychological tests will be used, the role of the results in confirming or questioning other information or previous conclusions;

(C)Scope and distribution of the evaluation report;

(D)Limitations on the confidentiality of the process; and

(E)Cost and payment responsibility for the evaluation.

(2)Data collection and analysis that are consistent with the requirements of Family Code section 3118; that allow the evaluator to observe and consider each party in comparable ways and to substantiate (from multiple sources when possible) interpretations and conclusions regarding each child's developmental needs; the quality of attachment to each parent and that parent's social environment; and reactions to the separation, divorce, or parental conflict. This process may include:

(A)Reviewing pertinent documents related to custody, including local police records;

(B)Observing parent-child interaction (unless contraindicated to protect the best interest of the child);

(C)Interviewing parents conjointly, individually, or both conjointly and individually (unless contraindicated in cases involving domestic violence), to assess:

(i)Capacity for setting age-appropriate limits and for understanding and responding to the child's needs;

(ii)History of involvement in caring for the child;

(iii)Methods for working toward resolution of the child custody conflict;

(iv)History of child abuse, domestic violence, substance abuse, and psychiatric illness; and

(v)Psychological and social functioning;

(D)Conducting age-appropriate interviews and observation with the children, both parents, stepparents, step- and half-siblings conjointly, separately, or both conjointly and separately, unless contraindicated to protect the best interest of the child;

(E)Collecting relevant corroborating information or documents as permitted by law; and

(F)Consulting with other experts to develop information that is beyond the evaluator's scope of practice or area of expertise.

(3)A written or oral presentation of findings that is consistent with Family Code section 3111, Family Code section 3118, or Evidence Code section 730. In any presentation of findings, the evaluator must:

(A)Summarize the data-gathering procedures, information sources, and time spent, and present all relevant information, including information that does not support the conclusions reached;

(B)Describe any limitations in the evaluation that result from unobtainable information, failure of a party to cooperate, or the circumstances of particular interviews;

(C)Only make a custody or visitation recommendation for a party who has been evaluated. This requirement does not preclude the evaluator from making an interim recommendation that is in the best interest of the child; and

(D)Provide clear, detailed recommendations that are consistent with the health, safety, welfare, and best interest of the child if making any recommendations to the court regarding a parenting plan.

(Subd (e) amended effective January 1, 2007; previously amended effective January 1, 2003, and July 1, 2003.)

(f) Cooperation with professionals in another jurisdiction

When one party resides in another jurisdiction, the custody evaluator may rely on another qualified neutral professional for assistance in gathering information. In order to ensure a thorough and comparably reliable out-of-jurisdiction evaluation, the evaluator must:

(1)Make a written request that includes, as appropriate:

(A)A copy of all relevant court orders;

(B)An outline of issues to be explored;

(C)A list of the individuals who must or may be contacted;

(D)A description of the necessary structure and setting for interviews;

(E)A statement as to whether a home visit is required;

(F)A request for relevant documents such as police records, school reports, or other document review; and

(G)A request that a written report be returned only to the evaluator and that no copies of the report be distributed to parties or attorneys;

(2)Provide instructions that limit the out-of-jurisdiction report to factual matters and behavioral observations rather than recommendations regarding the overall custody plan; and

(3)Attach and discuss the report provided by the professional in another jurisdiction in the evaluator's final report.

(Subd (f) amended effective January 1, 2003.)

(g) Requirements for evaluator qualifications, training, continuing education, and experience

All child custody evaluators must meet the qualifications, training, and continuing education requirements specified in Family Code sections 1815, 1816, and 3111, and rules 5.225 and 5.230.

(Subd (g) amended effective January 1, 2004; previously amended effective July 1, 1999, and January 1, 2003.)

(h) Ethics

In performing an evaluation, the child custody evaluator must:

(1)Maintain objectivity, provide and gather balanced information for both parties, and control for bias;

(2)Protect the confidentiality of the parties and children in collateral contacts and not release information about the case to any individual except as authorized by the court or statute;

(3)Not offer any recommendations about a party unless that party has been evaluated directly or in consultation with another qualified neutral professional;

(4)Consider the health, safety, welfare, and best interest of the child in all phases of the process, including interviews with parents, extended family members, counsel for the child, and other interested parties or collateral contacts;

(5)Strive to maintain the confidential relationship between the child who is the subject of an evaluation and his or her treating psychotherapist;

(6)Operate within the limits of the evaluator's training and experience and disclose any limitations or bias that would affect the evaluator's ability to conduct the evaluation;

(7)Not pressure children to state a custodial preference;

(8)Inform the parties of the evaluator's reporting requirements, including, but not limited to, suspected child abuse and neglect and threats to harm one's self or another person;

(9)Not disclose any recommendations to the parties, their attorneys, or the attorney for the child before having gathered the information necessary to support the conclusion;

(10)Disclose to the court, parties, attorney for a party, and attorney for the child conflicts of interest or dual relationships; and not accept any appointment except by court order or the parties' stipulation; and

(11)Be sensitive to the socioeconomic status, gender, race, ethnicity, cultural values, religion, family structures, and developmental characteristics of the parties.

(Subd (h) amended effective January 1, 2007; previously amended effective January 1, 2003.)

(i) Service of the evaluation report

A Notice Regarding Confidentiality of Child Custody Evaluation Report (form FL-328) must be attached as the first page of the child custody evaluation report when a court-ordered child custody evaluation report is filed with the clerk of the court and served on the parties or their attorneys, and any counsel appointed for the child, to inform them of the confidential nature of the report and the potential consequences for the unwarranted disclosure of the report.

(Subd (i) adopted effective January 1, 2010.)

(j) Cost-effective procedures for cross-examination of evaluators

Each local court must develop procedures for expeditious and cost-effective cross-examination of evaluators, including, but not limited to, consideration of the following:

(1)Videoconferences;

(2)Telephone conferences;

(3)Audio or video examination; and

(4)Scheduling of appearances.

(Subd (j) relettered effective January 1, 2010; adopted as subd (i); previously amended effective January 1, 2003.)

Rule 5.220 amended effective January 1, 2010; adopted as rule 1257.3 effective January 1, 1999; previously amended and renumbered effective January 1, 2003; previously amended effective July 1, 1999, July 1, 2003, January 1, 2004, and January 1, 2007.

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Rule 5.225. Appointment requirements for child custody evaluators

(a) Purpose

This rule provides the licensing, education and training, and experience requirements for child custody evaluators who are appointed to conduct full or partial child custody evaluations under Family Code sections 3111 and 3118, Evidence Code section 730, or chapter 15 (commencing with section 2032.010) of title 4 of part 4 of the Code of Civil Procedure This rule is adopted as mandated by Family Code section 3110.5.

(Subd (a) amended and relettered effective January 1, 2007; adopted as subd (b).)

(b) Definitions

For purposes of this rule:

(1)A "child custody evaluator" is a court-appointed investigator as defined in Family Code section 3110.

(2)A "child custody evaluation" is an investigation and analysis of the health, safety, welfare, and best interest of a child with regard to disputed custody and visitation issues conducted under Family Code sections 3111 and 3118, Evidence Code section 730, or Code of Civil Procedure section 2032.010 et seq.

(3)A "full evaluation, investigation, or assessment" is a child custody evaluation that is a comprehensive examination of the health, safety, welfare, and best interest of the child.

(4)A "partial evaluation, investigation, or assessment" is a child custody evaluation that is limited by the court in terms of its scope.

(5)The terms "evaluation," "investigation," and "assessment" are synonymous.

(6)"Best interest of the child" is described in Family Code section 3011.

(7)A "court-connected evaluator" is a superior court employee or a person under contract with a superior court who conducts child custody evaluations.

(Subd (b) amended and relettered effective January 1, 2007; adopted as subd (c).)

(c) Licensing requirements

A person appointed as a child custody evaluator meets the licensing criteria established by Family Code section 3110.5(c)(1)-(5), if:

(1)The person is licensed as a:

(A)Physician and is either a board certified psychiatrist or has completed a residency in psychiatry;

(B)Psychologist;

(C)Marriage and family therapist; or

(D)Clinical social worker.

(2)A person may be appointed as an evaluator even if he or she does not have a license as described in (c)(1) if:

(A)The court certifies that the person is a court-connected evaluator who meets all the qualifications specified in (i); or

(B)The court finds that all the following criteria have been met:

(i)There are no licensed or certified evaluators who are willing and available, within a reasonable period of time, to perform child custody evaluations;

(ii)The parties stipulate to the person; and

(iii)The court approves the person.

(Subd (c) adopted effective January 1, 2007.)

(d) Education and training requirements

Before appointment, a child custody evaluator must complete 40 hours of education and training, which must include all the following topics:

(1)The psychological and developmental needs of children, especially as those needs relate to decisions about child custody and visitation;

(2)Family dynamics, including, but not limited to, parent-child relationships, blended families, and extended family relationships;

(3)The effects of separation, divorce, domestic violence, child sexual abuse, child physical or emotional abuse or neglect, substance abuse, and interparental conflict on the psychological and developmental needs of children and adults;

(4)The assessment of child sexual abuse issues required by Family Code section 3118; local procedures for handling child sexual abuse cases; the effect that court procedures may have on the evaluation process when there are allegations of child sexual abuse; and the areas of training required by Family Code section 3110.5(b)(2)(A)-(F), as listed below:

(A)Children's patterns of hiding and disclosing sexual abuse in a family setting;

(B)The effects of sexual abuse on children;

(C)The nature and extent of sexual abuse;

(D)The social and family dynamics of child sexual abuse;

(E)Techniques for identifying and assisting families affected by child sexual abuse; and

(F)Legal rights, protections, and remedies available to victims of child sexual abuse;

(5)The significance of culture and religion in the lives of the parties;

(6)Safety issues that may arise during the evaluation process and their potential effects on all participants in the evaluation;

(7)When and how to interview or assess adults, infants, and children; gather information from collateral sources; collect and assess relevant data; and recognize the limits of data sources' reliability and validity;

(8)The importance of addressing issues such as general mental health, medication use, and learning or physical disabilities;

(9)The importance of staying current with relevant literature and research;

(10)How to apply comparable interview, assessment, and testing procedures that meet generally accepted clinical, forensic, scientific, diagnostic, or medical standards to all parties;

(11)When to consult with or involve additional experts or other appropriate persons;

(12)How to inform each adult party of the purpose, nature, and method of the evaluation;

(13)How to assess parenting capacity and construct effective parenting plans;

(14)Ethical requirements associated with the child custody evaluator's professional license and rule 5.220;

(15)The legal context within which child custody and visitation issues are decided and additional legal and ethical standards to consider when serving as a child custody evaluator;

(16)The importance of understanding relevant distinctions among the roles of evaluator, mediator, and therapist;

(17)How to write reports and recommendations, where appropriate;

(18)Mandatory reporting requirements and limitations on confidentiality;

(19)How to prepare for and give court testimony;

(20)How to maintain professional neutrality and objectivity when conducting child custody evaluations; and

(21)The importance of assessing the health, safety, welfare, and best interest of the child or children involved in the proceedings.

(Subd (d) amended and relettered effective January 1, 2007; adopted as subd (e); previously amended effective January 1, 2005.)

(e) Additional training requirements

In addition to the requirements described in this rule, before appointment, child custody evaluators must comply with the basic and advanced domestic violence training requirements described in rule 5.230.

(Subd (e) adopted effective January 1, 2007.)

(f) Authorized education and training

The education and training described in (d) must be completed:

(1)After January 1, 2000;

(2)Through an eligible provider under this rule; and

(3)By either:

(A)Attending and participating in an approved course; or

(B)Serving as an instructor in an approved course. Each course taught may be counted only once. Instructors may claim and receive credit for only actual classroom time.

(Subd (f) adopted effective January 1, 2007.)

(g) Experience requirements

To satisfy the experience requirements of this rule, persons appointed as child custody evaluators must have participated in the completion of at least four partial or full court-appointed child custody evaluations within the preceding three years, as described below. Each of the four child custody evaluations must have resulted in a written or an oral report.

(1)The child custody evaluator participates in the completion of the child custody evaluations if the evaluator:

(A)Independently conducted and completed the child custody evaluation; or

(B)Materially assisted another child custody evaluator who meets all the following criteria:

(i)Licensing or certification requirements in (c);

(ii)Education and training requirements in (d);

(iii)Basic and advanced domestic violence training in (e);

(iv)Experience requirements in (g)(1)(A) or (g)(2); and

(v)Continuing education and training requirements in (h).

(2)The court may appoint an individual to conduct the child custody evaluation who does not meet the experience requirements described in (1), if the court finds that all the following criteria have been met:

(A)There are no evaluators who meet the experience requirements of this rule who are willing and available, within a reasonable period of time, to perform child custody evaluations;

(B)The parties stipulate to the person; and

(C)The court approves the person.

(3)Those who supervise court-connected evaluators meet the requirements of this rule by conducting or materially assisting in the completion of at least four partial or full court-connected child custody evaluations in the preceding three years.

(Subd (g) amended effective January 1, 2011; adopted as subd (f); previously amended and relettered effective January 1, 2007.)

(h) Appointment eligibility

After completing the licensing requirements in (c), the initial education and training requirements described in (d) and (e), and the experience requirements in (g), a person is eligible for appointment as a child custody evaluator.

(Subd (h) amended effective January 1, 2011; adopted as subd (g); previously amended and relettered effective January 1, 2005; previously amended effective January 1, 2007.)

(i) Continuing education and training requirements

(1)After a child custody evaluator completes the initial education and training requirements described in (d) and (e), the evaluator must complete these continuing education and training requirements to remain eligible for appointment:

(A)Domestic violence update training described in rule 5.230; and

(B)Eight hours of update training covering the subjects described in (d).

(2)The time frame for completing continuing education and training in (1) is as follows:

(A)A newly trained court-connected or private child custody evaluator who recently completed the education and training in (d) and (e) must:

(i)Complete the continuing education and training requirements of this rule within 18 months from the date he or she completed the initial education and training; and

(ii)Specify on form FL-325 or FL-326 the date by which he or she must complete the continuing education and training requirements of this rule.

(B)All other court-connected or private child custody evaluators must complete the continuing education and training requirements in (1) as follows:

(i)Court-connected child custody evaluators must complete the continuing education and training requirements within the 12-month period immediately preceding the date he or she signs the Declaration of Court-Connected Child Custody Evaluator Regarding Qualifications (form FL-325), which must be submitted as provided by (l) of this rule.

(ii)Private child custody evaluators must complete the continuing education and training requirements within the 12-month period immediately preceding his or her appointment to a case.

(3)Compliance with the continuing education and training requirements of this rule is determined at the time of appointment to a case.

(Subd (i) adopted effective January 1, 2011.)

(j) Court-connected evaluators

A court-connected evaluator who does not meet the education and training requirements in (d) may conduct child custody evaluations if, before appointment, he or she:

(1)Completed at least 20 of the 40 hours of education and training required by (d);

(2)Completes the remaining hours of education and training required by (d) within 12 months of conducting his or her first evaluation as a court-connected child custody evaluator;

(3)Complied with the basic and advanced domestic violence training requirements under Family Code sections 1816 and 3110.5 and rule 5.230;

(4)Complies with the experience requirements in (g); and

(5)Is supervised by a court-connected child custody evaluator who meets the requirements of this rule.

(Subd (j) relettered effective January 1, 2011; adopted as subd (h); previously relettered as subd (i) effective January 1, 2005; previously amended effective January 1, 2007.)

(k) Responsibility of the courts

Each court:

(1)Must develop local court rules that:

(A)Provide for acceptance of and response to complaints about an evaluator's performance; and

(B)Establish a process for informing the public about how to find qualified evaluators in that jurisdiction;

(2)Must use an Order Appointing Child Custody Evaluator (form FL-327) to appoint a private child custody evaluator or a court-connected evaluation service. Form FL-327 may be supplemented with local court forms;

(3)Must provide the Judicial Council with a copy of any local court forms used to implement this rule;

(4)As feasible and appropriate, may confer with education and training providers to develop and deliver curricula of comparable quality and relevance to child custody evaluations for both court-connected and private child custody evaluators; and

(5)Must use form Declaration of Court-Connected Child Custody Evaluator Regarding Qualifications (form FL-325) to certify that court-connected evaluators have met all the qualifications for court-connected evaluators under this rule for a given year. Form FL-325 may be supplemented with local court rules or forms.

(Subd (k) relettered effective January 1, 2011; adopted as subd (l); previously amended and relettered as subd (k) effective January 1, 2005, and as subd (j) effective January 1, 2007.)

(l) Child custody evaluator

A person appointed as a child custody evaluator must:

(1)Submit to the court a declaration indicating compliance with all applicable education, training, and experience requirements:

(A)Court-connected child custody evaluators must submit a Declaration of Court-Connected Child Custody Evaluator Regarding Qualifications (form FL-325) to the court executive officer or his or her designee. Court-connected child custody evaluators practicing as of January 1 of a given year must submit the form by January 30 of that year. Court-connected evaluators beginning practice after January 1 must submit the form before any work on the first child custody evaluation has begun and by January 30 of every year thereafter; and

(B)Private child custody evaluators must complete a Declaration of Private Child Custody Evaluator Regarding Qualifications (form FL-326) and file it with the clerk's office no later than 10 days after notification of each appointment and before any work on each child custody evaluation has begun;

(2)At the beginning of the child custody evaluation, inform each adult party of the purpose, nature, and method of the evaluation, and provide information about the evaluator's education, experience, and training;

(3)Use interview, assessment, and testing procedures that are consistent with generally accepted clinical, forensic, scientific, diagnostic, or medical standards;

(4)Have a license in good standing if licensed at the time of appointment, except as described in (c)(2) and Family Code section 3110.5(d);

(5)Be knowledgeable about relevant resources and service providers; and

(6)Before undertaking the evaluation or at the first practical moment, inform the court, counsel, and parties of possible or actual multiple roles or conflicts of interest.

(Subd (l) amended and relettered effective January 1, 2011; adopted as subd (m); previously amended and relettered as subd (l) effective January 1, 2005, and as subd (k) effective January 1, 2007.)

(m) Use of interns

Court-connected and court-appointed child custody evaluators may use interns to assist with the child custody evaluation, if:

(1)The evaluator:

(A)Before or at the time of appointment, fully discloses to the parties and attorneys the nature and extent of the intern's participation in the evaluation;

(B)Obtains the written agreement of the parties and attorneys as to the nature and extent of the intern's participation in the evaluation after disclosure;

(C)Ensures that the extent, kind, and quality of work performed by the intern being supervised is consistent with the intern's training and experience;

(D)Is physically present when the intern interacts with the parties, children, or other collateral persons in the evaluation; and

(E)Ensures compliance with all laws and regulations governing the professional practice of the supervising evaluator and the intern.

(2)The interns:

(A)Are enrolled in a master's or doctorate program or have obtained a graduate degree qualifying for licensure or certification as a clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, psychiatrist, or psychologist;

(B)Are currently completing or have completed the coursework necessary to qualify for their degree in the subjects of child abuse assessment and spousal or partner abuse assessment; and

(C)Comply with the applicable laws related to the practice of their profession in California when interns are:

(i)Accruing supervised professional experience as defined in the California Code of Regulations; and

(ii)Providing professional services for a child custody evaluator that fall within the lawful scope of practice as a licensed professional.

(Subd (m) relettered effective January 1, 2011; adopted as subd (l) effective January 1, 2007.)

(n) Education and training providers

"Eligible providers" includes the Administrative Office of the Courts and may include educational institutions, professional associations, professional continuing education groups, public or private for-profit or not-for-profit groups, and court-connected groups. Eligible providers must:

(1)Ensure that the training instructors or consultants delivering the training and education programs either meet the requirements of this rule or are experts 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 participants complete the education and training program;

(5)Distribute a certificate of completion to each person who has completed the training. The certificate must document the number of hours of training offered, the number of hours the person completed, the dates of the training, and the name of the training provider; and

(6)Meet the approval requirements described in (o).

(Subd (n) relettered effective January 1, 2011; adopted as subd (n); previously amended and relettered as subd (m) effective January 1, 2005; previously amended effective January 1, 2007.)

(o) Program approval required

All education and training programs must be approved by the Administrative Office of the Courts. Education and training courses that were taken between January 1, 2000, and July 1, 2003, may be applied toward the requirements of this rule if they addressed the subjects listed in (d) and either were certified or approved for continuing education credit by a professional provider group or were offered as part of a related postgraduate degree or licensing program.

(Subd (o) relettered effective January 1, 2011; adopted as subd (o); previously amended and relettered as subd (n) effective January 1, 2005; previously amended effective January 1, 2007.)

Rule 5.225 amended effective January 1, 2011; adopted as rule 1257.4 effective January 1, 2002; renumbered effective January 1, 2003; previously amended effective January 1, 2005, and January 1, 2007.

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Rule 5.230. Domestic violence training standards for court-appointed child custody investigators and evaluators

(a) Authority

This rule of court is adopted under Family Code sections 211 and 3111(d) and (e).

(Subd (a) amended effective January 1, 2007.)

(b) Purpose

Consistent with Family Code sections 3020 and 3111, the purposes of this rule are to require domestic violence training for all court-appointed persons who evaluate or investigate child custody matters and to ensure that this training reflects current research and consensus about best practices for conducting child custody evaluations by prescribing standards that training in domestic violence must meet. Effective January 1, 1998, no person may be a court-appointed investigator under Family Code section 3111(d) or Evidence Code section 730 unless the person has completed domestic violence training described here and in Family Code section 1816.

(Subd (b) amended effective January 1, 2003.)

(c) Definitions

For purposes of this rule, "court-appointed investigator" is considered to be synonymous with "court-appointed evaluator" as defined in Family Code section 3110.

(d) Mandatory training

Persons appointed as child custody investigators under Family Code section 3110 or Evidence Code section 730, and persons who are professional staff or trainees in a child custody or visitation evaluation or investigation, must complete basic training in domestic violence issues as described in Family Code section 1816 and, in addition:

(1)Advanced training

Sixteen hours of advanced training must be completed within a 12-month period. The training must include the following:

(A)Twelve hours of instruction, as approved by the Administrative Office of the Courts, in:

(i)The appropriate structuring of the child custody evaluation process, including, but not limited to, maximizing safety for clients, evaluators, and court personnel; maintaining objectivity; providing and gathering balanced information from both parties and controlling for bias; providing for separate sessions at separate times (as specified in Family Code section 3113); and considering the impact of the evaluation report and recommendations with particular attention to the dynamics of domestic violence;

(ii)The relevant sections of local, state, and federal law or rules;

(iii)The range, availability, and applicability of domestic violence resources available to victims, including, but not limited to, battered women's shelters, specialized counseling, drug and alcohol counseling, legal advocacy, job training, parenting classes, battered immigrant victims, and welfare exceptions for domestic violence victims;

(iv)The range, availability, and applicability of domestic violence intervention available to perpetrators, including, but not limited to, arrest, incarceration, probation, applicable Penal Code sections (including Penal Code section 1203.097, which describes certified treatment programs for batterers), drug and alcohol counseling, legal advocacy, job training, and parenting classes; and

(v)The unique issues in family and psychological assessment in domestic violence cases, including the following concepts:

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 children;

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 violence cases;

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 abuser/victim relationships;

i. The importance of, and procedures for, obtaining collateral information from probation departments, children's protective services, police incident reports, restraining order pleadings, medical records, schools, and other relevant sources;

j. Accepted methods for structuring safe and enforceable child custody and parenting plans that assure the health, safety, welfare, and best interest of the child, and safeguards for the parties; and

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 any family member.

(B)Four hours of community resource networking intended to acquaint the evaluator with domestic violence resources in the geographical communities where the families being evaluated may reside.

(2)Annual update training

Four hours of update training are required each year after the year in which the advanced training is completed. These four hours must consist of instruction focused on, but not limited to, an update of changes or modifications in local court practices, case law, and state and federal legislation related to domestic violence, and an update of current social science research and theory, particularly in regard to the impact on children of exposure to domestic violence.

(Subd (d) amended effective January 1, 2005; previously amended effective January 1, 2002, January 1, 2003, and January 1, 2004.)

(e) Education and training providers

Only education and training acquired from eligible providers meets the requirements of this rule. "Eligible providers" includes the Administrative Office of the Courts and may include educational institutions, professional associations, professional continuing education groups, public or private for-profit or not-for-profit groups, and court-connected groups.

(1)Eligible providers must:

(A)Ensure that the training instructors or consultants delivering the education and training programs either meet the requirements of this rule or are experts in the subject matter;

(B)Monitor and evaluate the quality of courses, curricula, training, instructors, and consultants;

(C)Emphasize the importance of focusing child custody evaluations on the health, safety, welfare, and best interest of the child;

(D)Develop a procedure to verify that participants complete the education and training program; and

(E)Distribute a certificate of completion to each person who has completed the training. The certificate must document the number of hours of training offered, the number of hours the person completed, the dates of the training, and the name of the training provider.

(2)Effective July 1, 2005, all education and training programs must be approved by the Administrative Office of the Courts.

(Subd (e) amended effective January 1, 2005.)

(f) Local court rules

Each local court may adopt rules regarding the procedures by which child custody evaluators who have completed the training in domestic violence as mandated by this rule will notify the local court. In the absence of such a local rule of court, child custody evaluators must attach copies of their certificates of completion of the initial 12 hours of advanced instruction and of the most recent annual 4-hour update training in domestic violence to each child custody evaluation report.

(Subd (f) relettered effective January 1, 2005; adopted as subd (g); amended effective January 1, 2003, and January 1, 2004.)

(g) Previous training accepted

Persons attending training programs offered after January 1, 1996, that meet all of the requirements set forth in subdivision (d)(1)(A) of this rule are deemed to have met the minimum standards set forth in subdivision (d)(1)(A) of this rule, but they must still meet the minimum standards listed in subdivisions (d)(1)(B) and (d)(2) of this rule.

(Subd (g) amended effective January 1, 2007; adopted as subd (h); relettered effective January 1, 2005.)

Rule 5.230 amended effective January 1, 2007; adopted as rule 1257.7 effective January 1, 1999; amended and renumbered effective January 1, 2003; previously amended effective January 1, 2003, January 1, 2004, and January 1, 2005.

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Rule 5.250. Children's participation and testimony in family court proceedings

(a) Children's participation

This rule is intended to implement Family Code section 3042. Children's participation in family law matters must be considered on a case-by-case basis. No statutory mandate, rule, or practice requires children to participate in court or prohibits them from doing so. When a child wishes to participate, the court should find a balance between protecting the child, the statutory duty to consider the wishes of and input from the child, and the probative value of the child's input while ensuring all parties' due process rights to challenge evidence relied upon by the court in making custody decisions.

(b) Determining if the child wishes to address the court

(1)The following persons must inform the court if they have information indicating that a child in a custody or visitation (parenting time) matter wishes to address the court:

(A)A minor's counsel;

(B)An evaluator;

(C)An investigator; and

(D)A child custody recommending counselor who provides recommendations to the judge under Family Code section 3183.

(2)The following persons may inform the court if they have information indicating that a child wishes to address the court:

(A)A party; and

(B)A party's attorney.

(3)In the absence of information indicating a child wishes to address the court, the judicial officer may inquire whether the child wishes to do so.

(c) Guidelines for determining whether addressing the court is in the child's best interest

(1)When a child indicates that he or she wishes to address the court, the judicial officer must consider whether involving the child in the proceedings is in the child's best interest.

(2)If the child indicating an interest in addressing the court is 14 years old or older, the judicial officer must hear from that child unless the court makes a finding that addressing the court is not in the child's best interest and states the reasons on the record.

(3)In determining whether addressing the court is in a child's best interest, the judicial officer should consider the following:

(A)Whether the child is of sufficient age and capacity to reason to form an intelligent preference as to custody or visitation (parenting time);

(B)Whether the child is of sufficient age and capacity to understand the nature of testimony;

(C)Whether information has been presented indicating that the child may be at risk emotionally if he or she is permitted or denied the opportunity to address the court or that the child may benefit from addressing the court;

(D)Whether the subject areas about which the child is anticipated to address the court are relevant to the court's decisionmaking process; and

(E)Whether any other factors weigh in favor of or against having the child address the court, taking into consideration the child's desire to do so.

(d) Guidelines for receiving testimony and other input

(1)If the court precludes the calling of a child as a witness, alternatives for the court to obtain information or other input from the child may include, but are not limited to:

(A)The child's participation in child custody mediation under Family Code section 3180;

(B)Appointment of a child custody evaluator or investigator under Family Code section 3110 or Evidence Code section 730;

(C)Admissible evidence provided by the parents, parties, or witnesses in the proceeding;

(D)Information provided by a child custody recommending counselor authorized to provide recommendations under Family Code section 3183(a); and

(E)Information provided from a child interview center or professional so as to avoid unnecessary multiple interviews.

(2)If the court precludes the calling of a child as a witness and specifies one of the other alternatives, the court must require that the information or evidence obtained by alternative means and provided by a professional or nonparty:

(A)Be in writing and fully document the child's views on the matters on which the child wished to express an opinion;

(B)Describe the child's input in sufficient detail to assist the court in its adjudication process;

(C)Be provided to the court and to the parties by an individual who will be available for testimony and cross-examination; and

(D)Be filed in the confidential portion of the family law file.

(3)On deciding to take the testimony of a child, the judicial officer should balance the necessity of taking the child's testimony in the courtroom with parents and attorneys present with the need to create an environment in which the child can be open and honest. In each case in which a child's testimony will be taken, courts should consider:

(A)Where the testimony will be taken, including the possibility of closing the courtroom to the public or hearing from the child on the record in chambers;

(B)Who should be present when the testimony is taken, such as: both parents and their attorneys, only attorneys in the case in which both parents are represented, the child's attorney and parents, or only a court reporter with the judicial officer;

(C)How the child will be questioned, such as whether only the judicial officer will pose questions that the parties have submitted, whether attorneys or parties will be permitted to cross-examine the child, or whether a child advocate or expert in child development will ask the questions in the presence of the judicial officer and parties or a court reporter; and

(D)Whether a court reporter is available in all instances, but especially when testimony may be taken outside the presence of the parties and their attorneys and, if not, whether it will be possible to provide a listening device so that testimony taken in chambers may be heard simultaneously by the parents and their attorneys in the courtroom or to otherwise make a record of the testimony.

(4)In taking testimony from a child, the court must take special care to protect the child from harassment or embarrassment and to restrict the unnecessary repetition of questions. The court must also take special care to ensure that questions are stated in a form that is appropriate to the witness's age or cognitive level. If the child is not represented by an attorney, the court must inform the child in an age-appropriate manner about the limitations on confidentiality and that the information provided to the court will be on the record and provided to the parties in the case. In the process of listening to and inviting the child's input, the court must allow but not require the child to state a preference regarding custody or visitation and should, in an age-appropriate manner, provide information about the process by which the court will make a decision.

(5)In any case in which a child will be called to testify, the court may consider the appointment of minor's counsel for that child. The court may consider whether such appointment will cause unnecessary delay or otherwise interfere with the child's ability to participate in the process. In addition to adhering to the requirements for minor's counsel under Family Code section 3151 and rules 5.240, 5.241, and 5.242, minor's counsel must:

(A)Provide information to the child in an age-appropriate manner about the limitations on confidentiality and indicate to the child the possibility that information provided to the court will be on the record and provided to the parties in the case;

(B)Allow but not require the child to state a preference regarding custody or visitation (parenting time) and, in an age-appropriate manner, provide information about the process by which the court will make a decision;

(C)Provide procedures relevant to the child's participation and, if appropriate, provide an orientation to the courtroom where the child will be testifying; and

(D)Inform the parties and then the court about the client's desire to provide input.

(6)No testimony of a child may be received without such testimony being heard on the record or in the presence of the parties. This requirement may not be waived by stipulation.

(e) Responsibilities of court-connected or appointed professionals

A child custody evaluator, a child custody recommending counselor, an investigator, or a mediator appointed or assigned to meet with a child in a family court proceeding must:

(1)Provide information to the child in an age-appropriate manner about the limitations on confidentiality and the possibility that information provided to the professional may be shared with the court on the record and provided to the parties in the case;

(2)Allow but not require the child to state a preference regarding custody and visitation (parenting time), and, in an age-appropriate manner, provide information about the process by which the court will make a decision; and

(3)Provide to the parents of the child participating in the court process information about local court procedures relevant to the child's participation and information about how to best support the child in an age-appropriate manner during the court process.

(f) Methods of providing information to parents and supporting children

Courts should provide information to parties and parents and support for children when children want to participate or testify or are otherwise involved in family law proceedings. Such methods may include but are not limited to:

(1)Having court-connected professionals meet jointly or separately with the parents or parties to discuss alternatives to having a child provide direct testimony;

(2)Providing an orientation for a child about the court process and the role of the judicial officer in making decisions, how the courtroom or chambers will be set up, and what participating or testifying will entail;

(3)Providing information to parents or parties before and after a child participates or testifies so that they can consider the possible effect on their child of participating or not participating in a given case;

(4)Including information in child custody mediation orientation presentations and publications about a child's participation in family law proceedings;

(5)Providing a children's waiting room; and

(6)Providing an interpreter for the child, if needed.

(g) Education and training

Education and training content for court staff and judicial officers should include information on children's participation in family court processes, methods other than direct testimony for receiving input from children, and procedures for taking children's testimony.

Rule 5.250 adopted effective January 1, 2012.

Advisory Committee Comment

Rule 5.250 does not apply to probate guardianships except as and to the extent that the rule is incorporated or expressly made applicable by a rule of court in title 7 of the California Rules of Court.

Title 5, Family and Juvenile Rules-Division 1, Family Rules-Chapter 6, Certification of Statewide Uniform Guideline Support Calculators amended effective January 1, 2009.

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