Code Section Group

Family Code - FAM

DIVISION 8. CUSTODY OF CHILDREN [3000 - 3465]

  ( Division 8 enacted by Stats. 1992, Ch. 162, Sec. 10. )

PART 2. RIGHT TO CUSTODY OF MINOR CHILD [3020 - 3204]

  ( Part 2 enacted by Stats. 1992, Ch. 162, Sec. 10. )

CHAPTER 10. Appointment of Counsel to Represent Child [3150 - 3153]
  ( Chapter 10 enacted by Stats. 1992, Ch. 162, Sec. 10. )

3150.
  

(a) If the court determines that it would be in the best interest of the minor child, the court may appoint private counsel to represent the interests of the child in a custody or visitation proceeding, provided that the court and counsel comply with the requirements set forth in Rules 5.240, 5.241, and 5.242 of the California Rules of Court.

(b) Upon entering an appearance on behalf of a child pursuant to this chapter, counsel shall continue to represent that child unless relieved by the court upon the substitution of other counsel by the court or for cause.

(Amended by Stats. 2010, Ch. 352, Sec. 14. (AB 939) Effective January 1, 2011.)

3151.
  

(a) The child’s counsel appointed under this chapter is charged with the representation of the child’s best interests. The role of the child’s counsel is to gather evidence that bears on the best interests of the child, and present that admissible evidence to the court in any manner appropriate for the counsel of a party. If the child so desires, the child’s counsel shall present the child’s wishes to the court. The counsel’s duties, unless under the circumstances it is inappropriate to exercise the duty, include interviewing the child, reviewing the court files and all accessible relevant records available to both parties, and making any further investigations as the counsel considers necessary to ascertain evidence relevant to the custody or visitation hearings.

(b) Counsel shall serve notices and pleadings on all parties, consistent with requirements for parties. Counsel shall not be called as a witness in the proceeding. Counsel may introduce and examine counsel’s own witnesses, present arguments to the court concerning the child’s welfare, and participate further in the proceeding to the degree necessary to represent the child adequately.

(c) The child’s counsel shall have the following rights:

(1) Reasonable access to the child.

(2) Standing to seek affirmative relief on behalf of the child.

(3) Notice of any proceeding, and all phases of that proceeding, including a request for examination affecting the child.

(4) The right to take any action that is available to a party to the proceeding, including, but not limited to, the following: filing pleadings, making evidentiary objections, and presenting evidence and being heard in the proceeding, which may include, but shall not be limited to, presenting motions and orders to show cause, and participating in settlement conferences, trials, seeking writs, appeals, and arbitrations.

(5) Access to the child’s medical, dental, mental health, and other health care records, school and educational records, and the right to interview school personnel, caretakers, health care providers, mental health professionals, and others who have assessed the child or provided care to the child. The release of this information to counsel shall not constitute a waiver of the confidentiality of the reports, files, and any disclosed communications. Counsel may interview mediators; however, the provisions of Sections 3177 and 3182 shall apply.

(6) The right to reasonable advance notice of and the right to refuse any physical or psychological examination or evaluation, for purposes of the proceeding, which has not been ordered by the court.

(7) The right to assert or waive any privilege on behalf of the child.

(8) The right to seek independent psychological or physical examination or evaluation of the child for purposes of the pending proceeding, upon approval by the court.

(Amended by Stats. 2010, Ch. 352, Sec. 15. (AB 939) Effective January 1, 2011.)

3152.
  

(a) The child’s counsel may, upon noticed motion to all parties and the local child protective services agency, request the court to authorize release of relevant reports or files, concerning the child represented by the counsel, of the relevant local child protective services agency.

(b) The court shall review the reports or files in camera in order to determine whether they are relevant to the pending action and whether and to what extent they should be released to the child’s counsel.

(c) Neither the review by the court nor the release to counsel shall constitute a waiver of the confidentiality of the reports and files. Counsel shall not disclose the contents or existence of the reports or files to anyone unless otherwise permitted by law.

(Enacted by Stats. 1992, Ch. 162, Sec. 10. Operative January 1, 1994.)

3153.
  

(a) If the court appoints counsel under this chapter to represent the child, counsel shall receive a reasonable sum for compensation and expenses, the amount of which shall be determined by the court. Except as provided in subdivision (b), this amount shall be paid by the parties in the proportions the court deems just.

(b) Upon its own motion or that of a party, the court shall determine whether both parties together are financially unable to pay all or a portion of the cost of counsel appointed pursuant to this chapter, and the portion of the cost of that counsel which the court finds the parties are unable to pay shall be paid by the county. The Judicial Council shall adopt guidelines to assist in determining financial eligibility for county payment of counsel appointed by the court pursuant to this chapter.

(Enacted by Stats. 1992, Ch. 162, Sec. 10. Operative January 1, 1994.)

FAMFamily Code - FAM