Bill Text: CA AB958 | 2013-2014 | Regular Session | Introduced

NOTE: There are more recent revisions of this legislation. Read Latest Draft
Bill Title: Child custody: evaluations and reports.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Republican 1-0)

Status: (Introduced - Dead) 2014-02-03 - From committee: Filed with the Chief Clerk pursuant to Joint Rule 56. [AB958 Detail]

Download: California-2013-AB958-Introduced.html
BILL NUMBER: AB 958	INTRODUCED
	BILL TEXT


INTRODUCED BY   Assembly Member Jones

                        FEBRUARY 22, 2013

   An act to amend Sections 3025.5 and 3111 of the Family Code,
relating to child custody.


	LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


   AB 958, as introduced, Jones. Child custody: evaluations and
reports.
   Existing law permits a court to appoint a child custody evaluator,
who, except as specified, must be licensed as a physician, as a
psychologist, as a marriage and family therapist, or as a clinical
social worker, to conduct a child custody evaluation and file a
written confidential report on his or her evaluation in any contested
child custody or visitation rights proceeding. Existing law places
limitations on the disclosure of the evaluator's written confidential
report, specifying in what circumstances the written confidential
report may be disclosed.
   This bill would expand the circumstances in which the written
confidential report may be disclosed by requiring a court to disclose
the report to the licensing board governing the child custody
evaluator upon receiving a written request from the board, and by
allowing a person who is permitted to possess the written
confidential report to provide a copy of the report to the child
custody evaluator's licensing board in, order to assist the board in
investigating allegations that the child custody evaluator engaged in
unprofessional conduct. This bill would also specify in what
circumstances the board may utilize the report, the procedures the
board must follow when utilizing the report, and to whom the board
may disclose the report.
   Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes.
State-mandated local program: no.


THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  SECTION 1.  Section 3025.5 of the Family Code is amended to read:
   3025.5.   (a)    In any proceeding involving
child custody or visitation rights, if a report containing
psychological evaluations of a child or recommendations regarding
custody of, or visitation with, a child is submitted to the court,
including, but not limited to, a report created pursuant to Chapter 6
(commencing with Section 3110) of this part, a recommendation made
to the court pursuant to Section 3183, and a written statement of
issues and contentions pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 3151,
that information shall be contained in a document that shall be
placed in the confidential portion of the court file of the
proceeding, and may not be disclosed, except to the following
persons: 
   (a) 
    (1)  A party to the proceeding and his or her attorney.

   (b) 
    (2)  A federal or state law enforcement officer,
judicial officer, court employee, or family court facilitator of the
superior court of the county in which the action was filed, or an
employee or agent of that facilitator, acting within the scope of his
or her duties. 
   (c) 
    (3)  Counsel appointed for the child pursuant to Section
3150. 
   (d) 
    (4)  Any other person upon order of the court for good
cause. 
   (b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), upon receiving a written
request from an authorized representative of the licensing board
governing a child custody evaluator who prepared a report pursuant to
Section 3111, the court shall disclose a copy of the report in order
to assist the board in investigating allegations that the child
custody evaluator engaged in unprofessional conduct related to the
creation of the report. The confidential information contained in the
report shall remain confidential except for purposes of
investigating the alleged unprofessional conduct of the child custody
evaluator, or a criminal, civil, or administrative proceeding in
relation thereto. The confidential information may be used by the
licensing board in a criminal, civil, or administrative proceeding.
The confidential information shall be available only to the judge or
hearing officer and to the parties to the case. Names that are
confidential shall be listed in attachments separate from the general
pleadings. The confidential information shall be sealed after the
conclusion of the criminal, civil, or administrative hearing, and may
not subsequently be released. If the confidential information does
not result in a criminal, civil, or administrative proceeding, it
shall be sealed after the licensing board decides that no further
action will be taken in the matter of suspected licensing violations.
Except as otherwise provided in this subdivision, confidential
information in the possession of the licensing board may not contain
the name of the minor. 
  SEC. 2.  Section 3111 of the Family Code is amended to read:
   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 (g)  , 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. 
   (g) (1) A party permitted to possess the report may provide a copy
of the report to an authorized representative of the licensing board
governing the child custody evaluator who prepared the report in
order to assist the board in investigating allegations that the child
custody evaluator engaged in unprofessional conduct related to the
creation of the report. The confidential information contained in the
report shall remain confidential except for purposes of
investigating the alleged unprofessional conduct of the child custody
evaluator, or a criminal, civil, or administrative proceeding in
relation thereto. The confidential information may be used by the
licensing board in a criminal, civil, or administrative proceeding.
The confidential information shall be available only to the judge or
hearing officer and to the parties to the case. Names that are
confidential shall be listed in attachments separate from the general
pleadings. The confidential information shall be sealed after the
conclusion of the criminal, civil, or administrative hearing, and may
not subsequently be released. If the confidential information does
not result in a criminal, civil, or administrative proceeding, it
shall be sealed after the licensing board decides that no further
action will be taken in the matter of suspected licensing violations.
Except as otherwise provided in this subdivision, confidential
information in the possession of the licensing board may not contain
the name of the minor.  
   (2) For purposes of this section, a disclosure of the confidential
written report pursuant to this subdivision shall not be considered
unwarranted.                                        
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