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2014 California Rules of Court

Rule 5.83. Family centered case resolution

(a) Purpose

This rule establishes processes and procedures for courts to manage cases from initial filing to final disposition in an effective and timely manner. It is intended to advance the goals of Family Code section 2450(a) and Standards of Judicial Administration, standard 5.30.

(b) Definitions

(1)"Family centered case resolution process" refers to the process employed by the court to ensure that family law cases move through the court process from filing to final disposition in a timely, fair, and effective manner.

(2)"Disposition" refers to final judgment, dismissal, change of venue, or consolidation of the case into a lead case. Courts may continue a case in, or return a case to, the family centered case resolution process after disposition.

(3)"Status conference" refers to court events scheduled with the parties and attorneys for the purpose of identifying the current status of the case and determining the next steps required to reach disposition.

(4)"Family centered case resolution conference" refers to a conference scheduled with parties, attorneys, and a judicial officer to develop and implement a family centered case resolution plan under Family Code section 2451.

(c) Family centered case resolution process

(1)Beginning January 1, 2012, courts must develop a family centered case resolution process which must be fully implemented by January 1, 2013. The family centered case resolution process must identify and assist all dissolution, legal separation, nullity, and parentage cases to progress through the court process toward disposition effectively in a timely manner. The court may identify other family law case types to include in the family centered case resolution process.

(2)For cases filed on or after January 1, 2013, the court must include as part of the family centered case resolution process a review of all dissolution, legal separation, nullity, and parentage cases within at least 180 days from the date of the initial filing and at a minimum, at least every 180 days thereafter until disposition in order to determine the most appropriate next steps to help ensure an effective, fair, and timely resolution. Unless the court determines that procedural milestones are being met, the review must include at least one of the following: (1) a status conference or (2) a family centered case resolution conference. Nothing in this section prohibits courts from setting more frequent review dates.

(3)If, after 18 months from the date the petition was filed, both parties have failed to participate in the case resolution process as determined by the court, the court's obligation for further review of the case is relieved until the case qualifies for dismissal under Code of Civil Procedure section 583.210 or 583.310, or until the parties reactivate participation in the case, and the case is not counted toward the goals for disposition set out in (c)(5).

(4)In deciding whether a case is progressing in an effective and timely manner, the court should consider procedural milestones including the following:

(A)A proof of service of summons and petition should be filed within 60 days of case initiation;

(B)If no response has been filed, and the parties have not agreed on an extension of time to respond, a request to enter default should be submitted within 60 days after the date the response was due;

(C)The petitioner's preliminary declaration of disclosure should be served within 60 days of the filing of the petition;

(D)When a default has been entered, a judgment should be submitted within 60 days of the entry of default;

(E)Whether a trial date has been requested or scheduled; and

(F)When the parties have notified the court that they are actively negotiating or mediating their case, a written agreement for judgment is submitted within six months of the date the petition was filed, or a request for trial date is submitted.

(5)For dissolution, legal separation, and nullity cases initially filed on or after January 1, 2014, the goals of any family centered case resolution process should be to finalize dispositions as follows:

(A)At least 20 percent are disposed within 6 months from the date the petition was filed;

(B)At least 75 percent are disposed within 12 months from the date the petition was filed; and

(C)At least 90 percent are disposed within 18 months from the date the petition was filed.

(6)The court may select various procedural milestones at which to assist cases in moving toward disposition in an effective and timely manner. Types of assistance that can be provided include the following:

(A)Notifying the parties and attorneys by mail, telephone, e-mail, or other electronic method of communication of the current status of the case and the next procedural steps required to reach disposition;

(B)Implementing a schedule of status conferences for cases to identify the status of the case and determine the next steps required to progress toward disposition;

(C)Providing assistance to the parties at the time scheduled for hearings on requests for orders to identify the status of the case and determine the next steps required to reach disposition;

(D)Providing financial and property settlement opportunities to the parties and their attorneys with judicial officers or qualified attorney settlement officers;

(E)Scheduling a family centered case resolution conference to develop and implement a family centered case resolution plan under Family Code section 2451.

(7)In deciding that a case requires a family centered case resolution conference, the court should consider, in addition to procedural milestones, factors including the following:

(A)Difficulty in locating and serving the respondent;

(B)Complexity of issues;

(C)Nature and extent of anticipated discovery;

(D)Number and locations of percipient and expert witnesses;

(E)Estimated length of trial;

(F)Statutory priority for issues such as custody and visitation of minor children;

(G)Extent of property and support issues in controversy;

(H)Existence of issues of domestic violence, child abuse, or substance abuse;

(I)Pendency of other actions or proceedings that may affect the case; and

(J)Any other factor that would affect the time for disposition.

(d) Family centered case resolution conferences

(1)The court may hold an initial family centered case resolution conference to develop a specific case resolution plan. The conference is not intended to be an evidentiary hearing.

(2)Family centered case resolution conferences must be heard by a judicial officer. On the court's initiative or at the request of the parties, to enhance access to the court, the conference may be held in person, by telephone, by videoconferencing, or by other appropriate means of communication.

(3)At the conference, counsel for each party and each self-represented litigant must be familiar with the case and must be prepared to discuss the party's positions on the issues.

(4)With the exception of mandatory child custody mediation and mandatory settlement conferences, before alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is included in a family centered case resolution plan under Family Code section 2451(a)(2), the court must inform the parties that their participation in any court recommended ADR services is voluntary and that ADR services can be part of a plan only if both parties voluntarily opt to use these services. Additionally, the court must:

(A)Inform the parties that ADR may not be appropriate in cases involving domestic violence and provide information about separate sessions; and

(B)Ensure that all court-connected providers of ADR services that are part of a family centered case resolution plan have been trained in assessing and handling cases that may involve domestic violence.

(5)Nothing in this rule prohibits an employee of the court from reviewing the file and notifying the parties of any deficiencies in their paperwork before the parties appear in front of a judicial officer at a family centered case resolution conference. This type of assistance can occur by telephone, in person, or in writing, on or before each scheduled family centered case resolution conference. However, this type of procedural assistance is not intended to replace family centered case resolution plan management or to create a barrier to litigants' access to a judicial officer.

(e) Family centered case resolution plan order

(1)Family centered case resolution plans as ordered by the court must comply with Family Code sections 2450(b) and 2451.

(2)The family centered case resolution plan order should set a schedule for subsequent family centered case resolution conferences and otherwise provide for management of the case.

(f) Family centered case resolution order without appearance

If the court determines that appearances at a family centered case resolution conference are not necessary, the court may notify the parties and, if stipulated, issue a family centered case resolution order without an appearance at a conference.

(g) Family centered case resolution information

(1)Upon the filing of first papers in dissolution, legal separation, nullity, or parentage actions the court must provide the filing party with the following:

(A)Written information summarizing the process of a case through disposition;

(B)A list of local resources that offer procedural assistance, legal advice or information, settlement opportunities, and domestic violence services;

(C)Instructions for keeping the court informed of the person's current address and phone number, and e-mail address;

(D)Information for self-represented parties about the opportunity to meet with court self-help center staff or a family law facilitator; and

(E)Information for litigants on how to request a status conference, or a family centered case resolution conference earlier than or in addition to, any status conference or family centered case resolution conferences scheduled by the court.

Rule 5.83 adopted effective January 1, 2012.

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