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2023 California Rules of Court

Rule 5.230. Domestic violence training standards for court-appointed child custody investigators and evaluators

(a) Authority

This rule of court is adopted under Family Code sections 211 and 3111(d) and (e).

(Subd (a) amended effective January 1, 2007.)

(b) Purpose

Consistent with Family Code sections 3020 and 3111, the purposes of this rule are to require domestic violence training for all court-appointed persons who evaluate or investigate child custody matters and to ensure that this training reflects current research and consensus about best practices for conducting child custody evaluations by prescribing standards that training in domestic violence must meet. Effective January 1, 1998, no person may be a court-appointed investigator under Family Code section 3111(d) or Evidence Code section 730 unless the person has completed domestic violence training described here and in Family Code section 1816.

(Subd (b) amended effective January 1, 2003.)

(c) Definitions

For purposes of this rule, "court-appointed investigator" is considered to be synonymous with "court-appointed evaluator" as defined in Family Code section 3110.

(d) Mandatory training

Persons appointed as child custody investigators under Family Code section 3110 or Evidence Code section 730, and persons who are professional staff or trainees in a child custody or visitation evaluation or investigation, must complete basic training in domestic violence issues as described in Family Code section 1816 and, in addition:

(1)  Advanced training

Sixteen hours of advanced training must be completed within a 12-month period. The training must include the following:

(A)  Twelve hours of instruction, as approved by Judicial Council staff, in:

(i)  The appropriate structuring of the child custody evaluation process, including, but not limited to, maximizing safety for clients, evaluators, and court personnel; maintaining objectivity; providing and gathering balanced information from both parties and controlling for bias; providing for separate sessions at separate times (as specified in Family Code section 3113); and considering the impact of the evaluation report and recommendations with particular attention to the dynamics of domestic violence;

(ii)  The relevant sections of local, state, and federal law or rules;

(iii)  The range, availability, and applicability of domestic violence resources available to victims, including, but not limited to, battered women's shelters, specialized counseling, drug and alcohol counseling, legal advocacy, job training, parenting classes, battered immigrant victims, and welfare exceptions for domestic violence victims;

(iv)  The range, availability, and applicability of domestic violence intervention available to perpetrators, including, but not limited to, arrest, incarceration, probation, applicable Penal Code sections (including Penal Code section 1203.097, which describes certified treatment programs for batterers), drug and alcohol counseling, legal advocacy, job training, and parenting classes; and

(v)  The unique issues in family and psychological assessment in domestic violence cases, including the following concepts:

a. The effects of exposure to domestic violence and psychological trauma on children; the relationship between child physical abuse, child sexual abuse, and domestic violence; the differential family dynamics related to parent-child attachments in families with domestic violence; intergenerational transmission of familial violence; and manifestations of post-traumatic stress disorders in children;

b. The nature and extent of domestic violence, and the relationship of gender, class, race, culture, and sexual orientation to domestic violence;

c. Current legal, psychosocial, public policy, and mental health research related to the dynamics of family violence, the impact of victimization, the psychology of perpetration, and the dynamics of power and control in battering relationships;

d. The assessment of family history based on the type, severity, and frequency of violence;

e. The impact on parenting abilities of being a victim or perpetrator of domestic violence;

f. The uses and limitations of psychological testing and psychiatric diagnosis in assessing parenting abilities in domestic violence cases;

g. The influence of alcohol and drug use and abuse on the incidence of domestic violence;

h. Understanding the dynamics of high-conflict relationships and abuser/victim relationships;

i. The importance of, and procedures for, obtaining collateral information from probation departments, children's protective services, police incident reports, restraining order pleadings, medical records, schools, and other relevant sources;

j. Accepted methods for structuring safe and enforceable child custody and parenting plans that assure the health, safety, welfare, and best interest of the child, and safeguards for the parties; and

k. The importance of discouraging participants in child custody matters from blaming victims of domestic violence for the violence and from minimizing allegations of domestic violence, child abuse, or abuse against any family member.

(B)  Four hours of community resource networking intended to acquaint the evaluator with domestic violence resources in the geographical communities where the families being evaluated may reside.

(2)  Annual update training

Four hours of update training are required each year after the year in which the advanced training is completed. These four hours must consist of instruction focused on, but not limited to, an update of changes or modifications in local court practices, case law, and state and federal legislation related to domestic violence, and an update of current social science research and theory, particularly in regard to the impact on children of exposure to domestic violence.

(Subd (d) amended effective January 1, 2016; previously amended effective January 1, 2002, January 1, 2003, January 1, 2004, and January 1, 2005.)

(e) Education and training providers

Only education and training acquired from eligible providers meets the requirements of this rule. "Eligible providers" includes the Judicial Council and may include educational institutions, professional associations, professional continuing education groups, public or private for-profit or not-for-profit groups, and court-connected groups.

(1)  Eligible providers must:

(A)  Ensure that the training instructors or consultants delivering the education and training programs either meet the requirements of this rule or are experts in the subject matter;

(B)  Monitor and evaluate the quality of courses, curricula, training, instructors, and consultants;

(C)  Emphasize the importance of focusing child custody evaluations on the health, safety, welfare, and best interest of the child;

(D)  Develop a procedure to verify that participants complete the education and training program; and

(E)  Distribute a certificate of completion to each person who has completed the training. The certificate must document the number of hours of training offered, the number of hours the person completed, the dates of the training, and the name of the training provider.

(2)  Effective July 1, 2005, all education and training programs must be approved by Judicial Council staff in consultation with the Family and Juvenile Law Advisory Committee.

(Subd (e) amended effective January 1, 2016; previously amended effective January 1, 2005.)

(f) Local court rules

Each local court may adopt rules regarding the procedures by which child custody evaluators who have completed the training in domestic violence as mandated by this rule will notify the local court. In the absence of such a local rule of court, child custody evaluators must attach copies of their certificates of completion of the initial 12 hours of advanced instruction and of the most recent annual 4-hour update training in domestic violence to each child custody evaluation report.

(Subd (f) relettered effective January 1, 2005; adopted as subd (g); amended effective January 1, 2003, and January 1, 2004.)

(g) Previous training accepted

Persons attending training programs offered after January 1, 1996, that meet all of the requirements set forth in subdivision (d)(1)(A) of this rule are deemed to have met the minimum standards set forth in subdivision (d)(1)(A) of this rule, but they must still meet the minimum standards listed in subdivisions (d)(1)(B) and (d)(2) of this rule.

(Subd (g) amended effective January 1, 2007; adopted as subd (h); relettered effective January 1, 2005.)

Rule 5.230 amended effective January 1, 2016; adopted as rule 1257.7 effective January 1, 1999; amended and renumbered as rule 5.230 effective January 1, 2003; previously amended effective January 1, 2004, January 1, 2005, and January 1, 2007.

Title 5, Family and Juvenile Rules-Division 1, Family Rules-Chapter 8, Child Custody and Visitation (Parenting Time) Proceedings-Article 3, Ex Parte communication; adopted January 1, 2013.

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