In May 2008, the Judicial Counsel of California established the Elkins Family Law Task Force to create ways to improve the efficiency and accessibility of the California Family Law Courts. This past April, the task force released its recommendations that show a promising shift in how California handles divorce.
The report outlined 117 recommendations, which will be implemented by a special committee. Here are some of the key recommendations:
1. Development of family court education programs for the public and for court staff, officers, and judges with the intention of improving services and the skills of supervising family law judges.
2. Provide more funding to improve court facilities and to make legal services available to self-represented litigants including case settlement assistance.
3. Establish case flow management rules to get cases moving through the system quicker, and change in rules that make sure trials are not interrupted by other cases.
4. Change child custody procedures to determine whether or not children participate in proceedings on a case by case basis.
5. Funding for training of minor’s counsels and child custody evaluators.
The 38-member task force spent two years researching their findings prompted by the 2007 case Elkins v. Superior Court. In the case, a local court divided Mr. Elkins’ and his former spouse’s marital property without considering some information (exhibits), because Mr. Elkins failed to offer proper evidentiary foundation.
The California Supreme Court found that this decision conflicted with statutory law and decided that all marital dissolutions should “proceed under the same general rules of procedure that govern other civil trials.” As a result, the task force was created to ensure changes that promote accessibility in the system do, in fact, occur.
To learn more about the task force and to read their entire recommendation, download the PDF here -> Elkins Family Law Task Force Report to the Judicial Counsel of California. Find more information on California Family Law issues in the California Divorce Guide.