Important Changes to the California Family Code in 2015
On January 1, 2015, several changes to the California Family Code took effect. It is important to know these changes because they may apply to your case. Important changes to the Code include the following:
Multiple Section Changes to Reflect Gender Neutrality
Effective January 1, 2015, several Family Code sections have been updated to reflect California’s recognition of same-sex unions. The revisions commence with Family Code §300(a), which revises the definition of marriage from a “personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman” to a “personal relation arising out of a civil contract between two parties.” Family Code §308 expands California’s recognition of same-sex unions. The section, which previously placed limits on California’s recognition of out-of-state marriages, is now revised to the following: “A marriage contracted outside this state that would be valid by laws of the jurisdiction in which the marriage was contracted is valid in this state.” Finally, all other sections which previously contained gendered terms including “husband,” “wife,” “man,” and “woman” have been revised with gender neutral terms such as “spouses” or “married person.” This language change affects numerous Family Code sections.
Family Code §218 Post-Judgment Discovery
Family Code §218 is a new code section which applies to post-judgment discovery following the California Court of Appeals decision in In Re Marriage of Boblitt (February 2014). More information related to the Boblitt decision can be found here (link to https://www.wf-lawyers.com/recent-changes-in-post-judgment-discovery-in-divorce-cases/), but essentially, the Court made post-judgment discovery more difficult because it allowed for discovery only if the non-requesting party agreed to it or it was Court-ordered after the requesting party filed a motion. Family Code §218 abolishes these requirements and allows for discovery to automatically reopen when a request for order or other motion is filed and served. The discovery is limited however to issues raised in the post-judgment pleadings. Family Code §218 specifically states: “With respect to the ability to conduct formal discovery in family law proceedings, when a request for order or other motion is filed and served after entry of judgment, discovery shall automatically reopen as to the issues raised in the post-judgment pleadings currently before the court. The date initially set for trial of the action specified in subdivision (a) of Section 2024.020 of the Code of Civil Procedure shall mean the date the post-judgment proceeding is set for hearing on the motion or any continuance thereof, or evidentiary trial, whichever is later.”
Family Code §3104 Grandparent Visitation
Family Code §3104 describes the circumstances in which grandparents may petition for visitation of their grandchild when the child’s parents are both still alive. Effective January 1, 2015, there is a new addition to §3104(b). Previously, §3104(b) limited the ability for grandparents to petition for visitation while the natural or adoptive parents were still married to cases where (1) the parents are currently living separately and apart on a permanent or indefinite basis; (2) One of the parents has been absent for more than one month without the other spouse knowing the whereabouts of the absent spouse; (3) One of the parents joins in the petition with the grandparents; (4) The child is not residing with either parent; and (5) The child has been adopted by a stepparent. The Code has now added the following circumstance as the sixth (6) category: one of the parents is incarcerated or involuntarily institutionalized.
*Please note that if you are a grandparent and able to petition under one of these circumstances, there are several statutory and constitutional factors the court will consider when making its determination.
For more information about family law, or to schedule an appointment with a divorce attorney near you, call:
San Diego: (619) 284-4113
Irvine: (949) 955-9155
Temecula: (951) 249-7022