California Divorce Reform 4.0

Once again, the state of California is contemplating improving the family law system.  In 1966 Governor Brown The First appointed a Family Law Commission which resulted in no-fault divorce, a concept in the wind elsewhere also.  The commission omitted child support and child custody, and said it wanted to take family law out of the adversary system.  However, the summons for a petition to dissolve a marriage has a caution in a box under your name: “You are being sued.”

Next was Family Court 2000 commenced in 1996, “A Proposal to Restructure California’s Forum For the Resolution of Family Related Conflict.”  The committee said, “the adversary system tends to exacerbate the already strained relationship of the parties…One of the undeniable truths in family law is that the negative impact of the family breakup upon children is directly proportional to the amount of conflict which exists between the parents.” The result of this committee’s work was more accommodation for people representing themselves.

Then in 2008, the Judicial Council appointed The Elkins Task Force.  So many people wanted to speak to the task force that a special day for the public was added to the schedule.  For seven hours, 33 women and two men addressed their issues with family law.  All were in regard to children.  More emphasis on the right to testify was the chief result of this task force’s work.  Fourteen year olds were cited as being able to testify, although there never had been a rule for children of any specific age being not allowed to testify.

Now the Senate Committee on Judiciary, chaired by Hanna-Beth Jackson,  is asking “stakeholders” for opinions as to how to improve family law.  A few more deck chairs will be rearranged.

You can’t solve a problem with the same kind of thinking that created it.
-Albert Einstein

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