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2014 Legislative Changes and Amendments to the CA Family Code

Q. What are the most important 2014 changes and revisions to the California Family Law Act?


2014 Legislative Changes/Amendments to the California Family Code

2013 was definitely a boring year in terms of amendments to our Family Code. In fact, as far as I can discern, it is so mostly uninteresting that I wouldn't have blogged the subject but for the fact that it took so much time just to confirm the lack of revisions that I'm happy to spare you the effort in doing your own searches. Several of them are simply code sections that have sunsetted, i.e., that were operative until a specific date and were repealed if not extended or those which were already calendared to be superceded by another version of the statute on January 1 or July 1. Yawn. There are important changes affecting parentage, however. If I've missed anything of interest, please email the family statutes that should have been included.

Here is a listing of the family law statutes that will change, some of them on January 1 and some on July 1 of 2014.

  • Family Code section 3100 (Joint Custody Orders)

The present version is operative until July 1, 2014, when the new language becomes effective. There is no material change. Soon to be former subsection (c) contains this sentence: "If a criminal protective order has been issued pursuant to Section 136.2 of the Penal Code, the visitation order shall make reference to, and acknowledge the precedence of enforcement of, any appropriate criminal protective order."

The version effective on 7/1/14 is rewritten to say: "If a criminal protective order has been issued pursuant to Section 136.2 of the Penal Code, the visitation order shall make reference to, and, unless there is an emergency protective order that has precedence in enforcement pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (c) of Section 136.2 of the Penal Code or a no-contact order, as described in Section 6320, acknowledge the precedence of enforcement of, an appropriate criminal protective order."

  • Family Code section 4326 (Factors Considered in Ordering Support)

This is a significant change for 2014. Section 4326 by its terms was to expire unless extended by legislative action prior to the end of 2013, which it wasn't. This section provided that a motion to modify spousal support, upon the cessation of the receipt of child support because a child became a major (or was still in high school up to the age of 19), did not require a showing of 'changed circumstances' - i.e., such change was presumed as a matter of law. This is no longer the case.

  • Family Code section 6320 (Ex Parte Protective Orders for Domestic Violence)

This statute remains the same. It was to be repealed effective July 1, 2014 unless it was extended by further legislative enactment prior to that date. It was. There is no longer a sunset provision attached to it so it evidently passed the legislative muster and is here to stay.

  • Family Code section 6325.5 (Ex Parte Orders Prohibiting Impairing Insurance Beneficiaries)

New FC section 6325.5(a) states: "The court may issue an ex parte order restraining any party from cashing, borrowing against, canceling, transferring, disposing of, or changing the beneficiaries of any insurance or other coverage held for the benefit of the parties, or their child or children, if any, for whom support may be ordered, or both." It was added in 2013, but according to subsection (b) it is not operative until 7/1/14.

  • Family Code section 6383 (Registration of Domestic Violence Restraining Orders)

The substantive changes are to subsection (h). New subsection (h)(1) regards civil liability on the part of peace officers who make arrests in connection with what appears to be a valid protective or restraining order; new subsection (h)(2) speaks to situations where more than one protective order has issued, possibly in favor of each party. This revision leaves me scratching my head, but my purpose here is just to alert you to updates so that you can figure this one out if you ever encounter it -:)

  • Family Code section 6405 (Uniform Interstate Enforcement of DV Protection Orders Act)

This change tracks the revision to section 6383 in the sense that its substantive impact is directed towards police properly enforcing what may be competing restraining orders by each party, from different jurisdictions. While it may be instructional to cops, it is unlikely to have any relevance to lawyers or litigants - except when they want to sue for alleged peace officer misconduct. Apparently there has been much confusion among police sergeants about how to instruct their deputies in cases of warring and conflicting DV TRO's. There are two versions of the statute, with the second becoming effective on 7/1/14.

  • Family Code section 7601 (Paternity and Multiple Legal Parents)

This is the most important Family Code legislative change for 2014, which becomes effective on 1/1. It specifically authorizes courts to find that a child may have more than two legal parents, and importantly expands the rights of bio, legal, and de facto "parents" with children. It deserves its own separate Blog.

  • Family Code section 7611 (Paternity and Presumed Parents)

This statute becomes effective January 1, 2014, and importantly revises former Family Code section 7611 to recognize the polygender nature of families these days - it replaces the pronoun "he" with "a person" and speaks in a gender neutral manner as to who may become a legally recognized parent under California law. Hence, those who may seek parental rights are no longer bound to the "he" "she" boundaries on the past. It is not clear whether this statute will be applied retroactively, but presumably so.

  • Family Code section 7212 (Paternity and Competing Presumptions)

Section 7212 has been radically rewritten, consistent with the changes to FC section 7612, to address the question of just who has stable connections to a child and fulfill that child's psychological needs for care and affection, and it is a huge change in the law. I don't practice this area of family law, however, and don't feel competent to comment on it at this time. For those legal practitioners, and for family members and 'de facto' parents who have established ties with children, this statute will open doors that formerly were wedged shut. It tracks the language of Family Code section 3401, which deals with the rights of nonparents to protect their bonds with children whose best interests will be served by continuing the roles adults have assumed in their lives.

I did peruse the 2014 changes to Title 5 of the Family Cal. Rules of Court and there are no revisions of a substantive nature, although there are some cosmetic clean-ups and rewrites. Most of the changes that might be considered substantive involve juvenile proceedings.

Anyway, I hope my effort in pointing these changes out saves you some of your valuable time!

Thurman W. Arnold, III, CFLS

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