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a specific date and were repealed if not extended or those which were
already calendared to be superceded by another version of the statute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
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
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
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