“In light of the volume of cases faced by trial courts, we understand their efforts to streamline family law procedures. But family law litigants should not be subjected to second-class status or deprived of access to justice. Litigants with other civil claims are entitled to resolve their disputes in the usual adversary trial proceeding governed by the rules of evidence established by statute. It is at least as important that courts employ fair proceedings when the stakes involve a judgment providing for custody in the best interest of a child and governing a parent’s future involvement in his or her child’s life, dividing all of a family’s assets, or determining levels of spousal and child support. The same judicial resources and safeguards should be committed to a family law trial as are committed to other civil proceedings.”
In Elkins v. Superior Court (2007) 41 Cal.4th 1337, the California court recommended that the Judicial Council of California establish a task force to “study and propose measures to assist trial courts in achieving efficiency and fairness in marital dissolution proceedings and to ensure access to justice for litigants, many of whom are self-represented.” In response to this recommendation, the Elkins Family Law Task Force was appointed in 2008.
Over the course of its work, the Elkins Family Law Task Force held 10 in-person meetings plus 2 additional in-person meetings dedicated to hearing comments from the public regarding family law reform in California. The meetings occurred in San Francisco (June, September, November 2008, May 2009, August 2009, and February 2010), Los Angeles (February 2009), and a Litigant and Advocate Input Group meeting on April 6, 2009 in San Francisco. Public Hearings on the Draft Recommendations were held in Los Angeles and San Francisco in October 2009. At the February 1 and 2, 2010 meetings in San Francisco, the task force review and considered the public comments on the draft recommendations and discussed the proposed revisions of the draft recommendations.
The Elkins Family Law Task Force presented its final recommendations to increase access to justice, ensure due process, and provide for more effective and consistent rules, policies, and procedures in family court to the Judicial Council of California on April 23, 2010. The Judicial Council accepted the report and recommendations.
The Elkins Family Law Task Force is grateful to the many people who submitted written comments or who participated in the public hearings and meetings on the draft recommendations. The active involvement of people who have experience in the family courts informed the work of the Task Force. Thank you for taking the time to share your comments and suggestions to ensure a comprehensive review of the family courts.
Extensive written comments and in-person comments have been received by the task force at its public meetings, public hearings, and public input meeting
The Elkins Family Law Implementation Task Force (EFLITF) was appointed in July 2010 and provided its final report to the Judicial Council in December 2013. The task force collaborated with related advisory groups and justice system partners on implementation of the Elkins Family Law Task Force recommendations through development of rules and forms, education, system improvements, and data collection.
At the Judicial Council meeting on December 14, 2010, the Elkins Family Law Implementation Task Force presented its Interim Report highlighting its progress and the progress of the four working groups assigned to review the more than 200 recommendations developed by the EFLTF and identify ways to support or promote implementation.
Click here for more information on the work of Elkins Family Law Implementation Task Force.
The Elkins Family Law Implementation Task Force presented its Final Report to the Judicial Council on December 2013.
Work to implement on-going recommendations of the Elkins Family Law Task Force report have been assigned to the Judicial Council’s Family and Juvenile Law Advisory Committee and the Committee on Providing Access and Fairness.