Anyone who has spent any time in family law court knows one thing: they are congested with cases, booked for months and judges are overworked. Right now, the Elkins Family Law Task Force are taking suggestions from advocates and family law litigants to streamline the judicial court system to make practicing family law more efficient and uniform. The Elkins Family Law Task Force is responsible for making recommendations to to the Judicial Council of California and to improve the process of family law litigation.
A main concern for the Family Law Task Force is the overwhelming number of individuals who do not have respresentation. In quite a number of family law cases usually one spouse is the income bearer while the other spouse earned less of an income. In this case, the courts do usually order the higher earning spouse to “reimburse” fthe other for attorenys fees but this is insufficient in most cases. One in five cases have a spouse who is in pro per or represents him or herself due to lack of funds. The Elkins Family Law Task Force is now working to provide everyone with representation.
Another issue the Elkins Family Law Task Force is working on is to have more live testimony at Order to Show Cause Re: Modification cases. Currently, a spouse can obtain a temporary custody order on spousal support, child support and child custody based on a declaration alone. In my opinion, this worked. I think having live testimony similar to “mini trials” will only congest the courts more.
There is a comprehensive list of changes that are currently being contemplated and this is just a couple. Here are a few:
1A. Early Intervention & ADR
1B. Parentage & New Family Realities
1C. Family Law Research Agenda
2A. Presenting Live Testimony
2B. Representation in Family Law
2C. Increasing Representation in Family Law
2D. Encourage Limited Scope Representation
2E. Expanding the Practice of Family Law
2F. Assistance to Self-Represented Litigants
2G. Early Court Intervention
2H. Minor’s Counsel
3A. Case Management
3B. Comprehensive statewide rules of court
3C. Reviewing family law forms and processes
3D. Education on Family Law Process
3E. Child custody mediation
4A. Procedural Fairness
This is an exciting time for family law practicioners and litigants as the family law court system will become more cohesive and litigant friendly. Hopefully!