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2014 California Rules of Court

Rule 5.420. Domestic violence procedures for court-connected settlement service providers

(a) Purpose

This rule sets forth the protocol for court-connected settlement service providers handling cases involving domestic violence and not involving child custody or visitation (parenting time).

(b) Definitions

(1)"Domestic violence" is used as defined in Family Code sections 6203 and 6211.

(2)"Protective order" is synonymous with "domestic violence restraining order" as well as the following:

(A)"Emergency protective order" under Family Code section 6215;

(B)"Protective order" under Family Code section 6218;

(C)"Restraining order" under Welfare and Institutions Code section 213.5; and

(D)"Orders by court" under Penal Code section 136.2.

(3)"Settlement service(s)" refers to voluntary procedures in which the parties in a family law case agree to meet with a neutral third party professional for the purpose of identifying the issues involved in the case and attempting to reach a resolution of those issues by mutual agreement.

(c) Duties of settlement service providers

Courts providing settlement services must develop procedures for handling cases involving domestic violence. In developing these procedures, courts should consider:

(1)Reviewing court files or, if available, intake forms, to inform the person providing settlement services of any existing protective orders or history of domestic violence;

(2)Making reasonable efforts to ensure the safety of parties when they are participating in services;

(3)Avoiding negotiating with the parties about using violence with each other, whether either party should or should not obtain or dismiss a restraining order, or whether either party should cooperate with criminal prosecution;

(4)Providing information and materials that describe the settlement services and procedures with respect to domestic violence;

(5)Meeting first with the parties separately to determine whether joint meetings are appropriate in a case in which there has been a history of domestic violence between the parties or in which a protective order is in effect;

(6)Conferring with the parties separately regarding safety-related issues and the option of continuing in separate sessions at separate times if domestic violence is discovered after services have begun;

(7)Protecting the confidentiality of each party's times of arrival, departure, and meeting for separate sessions when appropriate; and

(8)Providing information to parties about support persons participating in joint or separate sessions.

(d) Training and education

All settlement service providers should participate in programs of continuing instruction in issues related to domestic violence, including child abuse.

Rule 5.420 adopted effective January 1, 2013.

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