New Family Law Legislation in California

Here are some new laws taking effect in 2016 and 2017 that involve common family law issues, such as child abuse, domestic violence, and custody.

Child Abuse

AB 1207 – Training for Mandated Reporters.

Anyone who is a licensee, license applicant, administrator, or employee of a licensed child day care facility must also take training on child abuse identification and reporting. This must be done during the first three months of employment and every two years thereafter.

SB 478 – Child Abuse Reporting.

Mandated child abuse reporters must make an initial report of suspected child abuse or neglect by telephone, with a written follow up report. This legislation allows county welfare agencies, like Child Welfare Services, to create pilot programs online to report abuse, in an effort to eliminate the initial telephone report. The online reporting would not be allowed if the suspected abuse is immediate, or the child appears to be in “imminent danger of severe harm or death.”

SB 794 – Child Abuse Reporting.

Currently, child welfare and probation agencies must immediately report known or suspected child abuse or neglect. This adds that the agencies must also make an immediate report to law enforcement when they learn a youth receiving welfare is the victim of commercial sexual exploitation, is at the risk of becoming exploited, or is missing.

Child Support

AB 610 – Suspension of Child Support During Payor’s Incarceration.

Child support orders enforced by the local child support agency were allowed to be suspended if the payor became incarcerated, under certain circumstances. This new law allows the suspension for all support orders, not just those enforced by a county agency. In addition, this suspension occurs “by operation of law,” rather than upon request of the payor. Of course, there must be notice to both parties of the suspension, with an opportunity to object within 30 days before the suspension takes effect.

Custody

AB 53 – Parents’ Duty to Use Car Seats for Children.

California Vehicle Codes currently prohibit a parent from driving with children under eight years old without placing them in a rear car seat. This legislation adds that children under two years old must be in a rear-facing car seat unless they weigh over 40 pounds or are more than 40 inches tall.

AB 365 – Deported Party’s Electronic Appearance at Custody Proceeding.

This bill adds requires that a party be allowed to present testimony or evidence electronically at a custody proceeding or mandatory court mediation if they were deported or detained by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

AB 439 – Court-Ordered Participation in Batterer’s Program.

Currently, a court may order a party who is restrained under a protective order to participate in an approved batterer’s program. AB 439 amends this statute to add that when the court has issued such an order, the restrained party must register within 30 days, unless otherwise ordered by the court; must provide the court and protected party with the program information, and must sign consent forms for the program to release certain information to the court and protected party, including proof if enrollment, attendance records, and reports.

AB 536 – Mutual Restraining Orders.

Currently, Family Code §6305 prevents courts from issuing mutual restraining orders unless the court makes specified findings after both parties have appeared and presented written evidence of abuse. This statute clarifies that this requirement is not satisfied simply because a party included evidence of abuse in the responsive pleading to a restraining order request. Rather, each party must file their own requests for restraining orders and provide the necessary written evidence therein.

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