I have met and heard the tragic stories of many parents. PA is a function, by and large, of a custodial ex-partner, although some alienation can start while the couple is still together.

This blog is a story of experiences and observations of dysfunctional Family Law (FLAW), an arena pitting parent against parent, with children as the prize. Due to the gender bias in Family Law, that I have observed, this Blog has evolved from a focus solely on PA to one of the broader Family/Children's Rights area and the impact of Feminist mythology on Canadian Jurisprudence and the Divorce Industry.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Beal Bill in California to try and ban Parental Alienation Syndrome

An email I sent to Beall through his website on July 5/09. This is the main header on his web page. Here you get a look at a man who appears to suck up to all things victim feminist, doesn't understand the dynamics or effects of Parental Alienation and is an incipient child abuser. Californians in his district take note. You have an elected representative that cares not about children but about protecting victim feminist mythology. To representative Beall: I have watched with interest Beall's support of the abuse of children by wanting to craft a bill that gets rid of PAS in CA courts. Fortunately it did not work but the toughening up of false allegations is a good thing because that is what many so called protective parents do. How many dads are in these PP association do you think? Are they allowed in when they are the sole custodial parent. Beall's bravado as shown on this web site is as misplaced as his original bill. PAS already passes the Frye test for science in USA courts and the Mohan test for science in Canadian courts. It will be interesting to see how it plays out once a case is brought forward. One thing is a certain. Beall is very misguided and NOW amongst other feminist organizations seem to have him in their back pocket. I remain incredulous that some Americans would elect and allow to stand in office a man who would work against the best interest of children and by doing so allow them to be emotionally abused. I shake my head in wonder. Does Beall not know Parental Alienation is performed by both genders or does he just work for one. Mike Murphy Check the ongoing discussion in California here http://parentalalienationcanada.blogspot.com/2009/06/family-law-makeover-california.html or here on the original Sacramento newspaper comment site with the same content. http://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/content?oid=1020581 This legislation is quite different than the misguided State Representative Beall started with. Given PAS already has passed the Frye test in USA case law it will be interesting to see how it will proceed in court actions. False accusers should take note. If you are found out the penalties are steep. There is far too much focus on the term Syndrome that has gotten the Victim Feminists hair in a knot. Any parent, male or female, who seeks the loyalty and involvement of a child in a custody fight is an unfit parent. That is not science, heck it isn't even rocket science, but it is common sense. MJM
california political news & opinion Read. Create. Discuss. california legislation > ab 612 AB 612 Custody and visitation: nonscientific theories.
LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST AB 612, as amended, Beall. Custody and visitation: nonscientific theories. Existing law governs the determination of child custody and visitation with a child in contested proceedings. Existing law provides for the use of court-appointed investigators, as defined, including court-appointed evaluators directed by the court to conduct a child custody investigation in those proceedings. Existing law authorizes the court to appoint a child custody evaluator if the court determines it is in the best interest of the child. If directed by the court, the evaluator is required to file a written confidential report on his or her evaluation. The report may be received in evidence on stipulation of all interested parties and is competent evidence as to all matters contained in the report. Existing law requires all child custody evaluators to have completed specified training relating to domestic violence and child abuse. Existing law requires the Judicial Council to adopt standards for court-connected evaluations, investigations, and assessments related to child custody. Existing law also requires the Judicial Council to formulate rules of court that establish education, experience, and training requirements for child custody evaluators and to establish related forms, as specified. This bill would provide that a child's expression of significant hostility toward a parent may be admitted as possible corroborating evidence that the parent has abused the child. The bill would prohibit a court from concluding that an accusation of child physical or sexual abuse against a parent is false based solely on the child's expression of significant hostility toward the parent. The bill would also require that, on and after January 1, 2010, these provisions be included in all training required of child custody evaluators, and would, consequently, require the Judicial Council to revise training standards for child custody evaluators allegations of physical or sexual abuse against a child are to be investigated using specified methods of data collection and analysis. The bill would provide that the rules of evidence applicable in criminal proceedings shall apply whenever the court considers an allegation of physical or sexual abuse against a child in a custody proceeding. The bill would also provide that unproven, nonscientific theories, including, but not limited to, alienation theories, as specified, are not consistent with generally accepted clinical, forensic, scientific, diagnostic, or medical standards. The bill would prohibit a court from relying upon an unproven, unscientific theory and from accepting into evidence any finding provided by an expert witness or court appointed professional who has relied on an unproven, nonscientific theory that is a basis for that finding. The bill would require the Judicial Council to provide training consistent with these provisions . The bill would include a statement of legislative intent.




































http://www.aroundthecapitol.com/Bills/ab_612




BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                     AB 612
                                                     Page 1

Date of Hearing:  April 28, 2009

             ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
                    Mike Feuer, Chair
       AB 612 (Beall) - As Amended:  April 22, 2009

As Proposed to Be Amended With RN 09-13247  received Friday,
                        April 24th  
                              

SUBJECT  :  CHILD CUSTODY:  EVIDENTIARY BAN

 KEY ISSUES  :

1)IN ORDER TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM POTENTIAL ABUSE, SHOULD NEW
TYPES OF LEGISLATIVE ACTION BE UNDERTAKEN TO  RESTRICT
  PROHIBIT CERTAIN EVIDENCE   INAPPROPRIATE EVIDENCE  FROM
CONSIDERATION BY A FAMILY COURT?

2)SHOULD, AS THIS BILL SEEKS, Any EVIDENCE that might
DEMONSTRATe THAT ONE PARENT IS SEEKING TO ALIENATE THE
CHILDREN FROM THE OTHER PARENT, if it can be characterized as
"parental alienation" evidence, BE BARRED FROM THE judge's
CONSIDERATION WHEN DETERMINING WHAT CUSTODY ARRANGEMENT WOULD
APPEAR TO BE IN THE CHILDREN'S BEST INTERESTS?

3)SHOULD All other relevant EVIDENCE CONTAINED IN A
PROFESSIONAL EVALUATOR'S CHILD CUSTODY REPORT that might
assist the court in determining the children's best interests
also BE BArred FROM the judge's CONSIDERATION IF ANY MENTION
IS MADE IN THE REPORT PERTAINING TO THE POSSIBILITY THAT ONE
PARENT has been SEEKING TO ALIENATE THE CHILDREN FROM THE
OTHER PARENT --   EVEN IF THE REPORT CONTAINs SIGNIFICANT
ADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE THAT COULD HELP THE COURT DETERMINE THE
BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILDren?

4)in the event THE COMMITTEE POTENTIALLY CONCLUDEs THERE IS as
YET inSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE SUPPORTING the PARTICULAR
EVIDENTIARY BAN PROPOSED HERE, MIGHT THE FIRST SENTENCE OF
THE BILL'S LEGISLATIVE INTENT SECTION   WISELY BE CODIFIED AS
A HELPFUL NEW ADMONITION IN THE FAMILY CODE?

 FISCAL EFFECT  :    As currently in print  ,  this bill is keyed
fiscal.
                


                                                    AB 612
                                                     Page 2

                        SYNOPSIS

This bill, sponsored by the Center for Judicial Excellence in
Marin County, seeks to prohibit certain evidence that currently
may be considered by courts and evaluators when trying to
determine what custody arrangement appears to be in the best
interests of the children.  Specifically, this measure seeks to
prohibit, apparently for the first time anywhere in the
country, a family law judge from considering any evidence of
parental alienation or of so-called "Parental Alienation
Syndrome," out of deep and sincere concern, and apparently
anecdotal evidence, that some family law courts are dangerously
misusing their discretion and making inappropriate custody
decisions on the bases of these so-called "syndromes" that are
not supported by a consensus in the scientific community.   The
bill does not define what such syndromes are and there appear
to be no published state cases relying on such a "syndrome" in
making a judicial determination about the best interests of the
children.  It is unclear in the bill just how broadly the ban
on any such "alienation" evidence would be, and, whether any
and all evidence in a custody case that might demonstrate that
one parent is seeking to alienate the children from the other
parent would be barred from the judge's consideration when
determining what custody arrangement would appear to be in the
children's best interests.  The bill further provides that all
other relevant evidence contained in a professional evaluator's
child custody report that might assist the court in determining
the children's best interests also shall be barred from the
judge's consideration if any mention is made in the report
pertaining to the possibility that one parent has been seeking
to alienate the children from the other parent -- even
presumably if the report contains significant admissible
evidence that could help the court determine the best interests
of the children.

The bill is supported by various groups who contend it is
necessary to protect children who may, as a result of a court's
reliance on reports containing "Parental Alienation Syndrome,"
be removed from a protective parent and placed in the custody
of an abusive parent.    The bill is opposed by  the Judicial
Council,  the California Judges Association, the Family Law Bar,
and the psychological community who all argue that the bill, as
drafted, could inadvertently actually harm children by keeping
the court from timely considering relevant information that
could force the courts to make decisions that are not in the







                                                     AB 612
                                                     Page 3

best interests of the children.

  In the event the Committee potentially concludes there may be
as yet insufficient evidence supporting the proposed ban on the
use of judicial discretion in this area, the analysis suggests
that the first sentence of the bill's legislative intent
section  -- urging family courts to strive to protect the
safety and best interests of children in custody matters by
ensuring that allegations of physical and sexual abuse are
investigated appropriately or that referrals are made to the
child welfare services agency - might be found by the Committee
as a potentially helpful admonition in the Family Code.

 SUMMARY  :  Seeks to prohibit family court judges from
considering certain evidence that currently may be considered
by courts and evaluators when trying to determine what custody
arrangement appears to be in the best interests of the
children.  Specifically,  this bill  :

1)States legislative intent that courts strive to protect the
safety and best interests of children in custody matters by
ensuring that allegations of physical and sexual abuse are
investigated appropriately or referrals are made to the child
welfare services agency.

2)Further finds and declares that Parental Alienation Syndrome
and other theories that suggest that abuse allegations of
children who express significant hostility to the allegedly
abusive parent are false and are the result of a campaign of
denigration by the other parent are not credible, and their
use in child custody evaluations has been harmful to
children.

3)Seeks to add a new section to the family code providing that
a child's expression of significant hostility toward a parent
cannot be used as evidence that an accusation of child abuse
or neglect against that parent is false.

4)Provides that on or after January 1, 2010, any child custody
evaluation report filed in a child custody proceeding that
includes "Parent Alienation Syndrome or Parent Alienation"
shall be deemed inadmissible in that custody proceeding.

5)Provides that, on or after January 1, 2010, the provisions of
this section shall be included in all trainings required







                                                     AB 612
                                                     Page 4

pursuant to Section 3110.5.

 EXISTING LAW  :

1)States that the health, safety and welfare of children is the
court's primary concern when determining the best interests
of children for child custody and visitation orders.  (Family
Code Section 3020.  Unless otherwise stated, all further
statutory references are to that code.)

2)Provides that, in determining the best interests of a child
in a child custody and visitation proceedings, the court
shall consider, among any other relevant factors, the health,
safety and welfare of the child, and any history of domestic
abuse or substance abuse by either parent.  (Section 3011.)

3)Permits the court, in a contested child custody or visitation
proceeding where the court determines it is in the best
interests of the child, to appoint a child custody evaluator
to conduct a child custody evaluation.  Provides that the
evaluation may be considered by the court.  Provides that the
report may be received in evidence on stipulation of all
interested parties and is competent evidence on all matters
contained in the report.  (Section 3111.)

4)Provides that no court may deny or limit custody or
visitation to a parent solely because that parent (a)
lawfully reported sexual abuse of the child; (b) otherwise
acted lawfully, based on a reasonable belief, to determine if
the child was a victim of sexual abuse; or (c) sought mental
health treatment for the child based on suspected sexual
abuse.  (Section 3027.5(a).)

5)Allows a court to order supervised visitation if the court
finds substantial evidence that the parent, with the intent
to interfere with the other parent's contact with the child,
makes a report of child abuse which the parent knew was false
at the time it was made.  Before imposing any such limitation
on visitation, the court must have determined that the
limitation is necessary to protect the health, safety and
welfare of the child and the court has considered the state's
policy of assuring that children have frequent and continuing
contact with both parents.  (Section 3027.5(b).)

6)Establishes qualifications required of child custody







                                                     AB 612
                                                     Page 5

evaluators.  Sets forth initial and continuing domestic
violence training for child custody mediators, investigators
and evaluators.  Court rules specify qualifications for
evaluators and specify the scope of the evaluation.
(Sections 1816, 3110.5, 3117; Rules of Court 5.220, 5.225.)

7)Where the court determines there is a serious allegation of
child sexual abuse, as defined, requires the child custody
evaluation to be conducted under specified rules.  (Section
3118.)

8)Provides that expert testimony is admissible if it is
personally known or made known to the expert and is of a type
that reasonably may be relied upon by an expert in forming an
opinion.  (Evidence Code Section 801.)

 COMMENTS  :  This bill, sponsored by the Center for Judicial
Excellence in Marin County,   seeks to ban certain evidence that
potentially may be considered by courts and evaluators in child
custody matters.  In particular, this bill seeks to exclude any
evidence that is based either on a so-called "Parental
Alienation Syndrome" or that seeks to demonstrate facts showing
that one parent is seeking to alienate the children against the
other parent.  Such a ban would apparently be the first
anywhere in the country.  The sponsors contend this approach is
needed out of deep and sincere concern, and apparently
anecdotal evidence, that some family law courts are dangerously
misusing their discretion and making inappropriate custody
decisions on the basis of these so-called "syndromes" that are
not supported by a consensus in the scientific community.

In support of the bill's suggested approach, the author states
the bill is necessary because today "court appointed child
evaluators are free to use any theory in making their report
regardless of acceptance or reliability.  Reports are then used
to aid the court in making determinations of custody and
visitation.  As a result, some custody determinations or
visitation rights are ordered based upon fringe theories that
are not recognized by the relevant psychological, medical, and
psychiatric communities.  The use of theories that are not
'generally accepted' by the relevant scientific community is
contrary to California evidence law."

 So-Called "Parental Alienation Syndrome," and Allegations of
Alienation Generally:   As noted above, this measure seeks to







                                                     AB 612
                                                     Page 6

put the California Legislature on record that "Parental
Alienation Syndrome and other theories that suggest that abuse
allegations of children who express significant hostility to
the allegedly abusive parent are false," and "their use in
child custody evaluations has been harmful to children."  Based
on this concern, the bill seeks to add a new section to the
Family Code providing that a child's expression of significant
hostility toward a parent cannot be used as evidence that an
accusation of child abuse or neglect against that parent is
false.  The bill further provides that beginning next January,
any child custody evaluation report filed in a child custody
proceeding that in anyway mentions "Parent Alienation Syndrome"
or contains facts that purport to demonstrate that one parent
is seeking to alienate the children from the other parent shall
be barred from consideration by the family court judge when
determining what custody arrangement would appear to be in the
best interests of the children.

In this regard, it is always worth recalling that divorce is
extremely difficult for parents and children alike.  According
to an article provided by the author in support of his bill:

  Termination of a spousal relationship without
  attendant damage to the parental relationship is a
  difficult task.  When one parent refuses to allow the
  other parent to be involved in the child's life,
  conflict ensues and a return to court becomes
  inevitable.  Where one parent sabotages (intentionally
  or unintentionally) the other parent's role in the
  child's life or a child becomes estranged from a
  parent the term "parental alienation" is used.

(Jerome Poliacoff, Cynthia Greene, and Laura Smith, "Parental
Alienation Syndrome:  Frye v. Gardner in the Family Courts
(1999).)

Parental Alienation Syndrome, as the syndrome was apparently
first coined by Richard Gardner in the 1980's, reportedly goes
farther than simple alienation.  At the extreme end, Gardner's
theory - which it is critical to note here has not been an
accepted theory as of yet in the scientific community -- holds
that a child's allegation of child sexual abuse by one parent
is the product of the other parent's brainwashing of the child,
as opposed to actual abuse.  Under this one commentator's
theory, a child's hatred or fear of his or her parent is not







                                                     AB 612
                                                     Page 7

proof in and of itself of the veracity of the alleged abuse,
but rather proof that the alleged abuse did not occur.

In response to the serious concerns about this theory,
Committee counsel undertook research to try to determine how
prevelant in California case law the theory has apparently been
relied upon in child custody determinations.  Based on the
Committee's research, there do not appear to be any published
state cases relying on such a "syndrome" in making a judicial
determination about the best interests of the children.

 Some Hypothetical Examples of How This Measure Might Affect
Child Custody Determinations :  Several examples may help
elucidate the key issues surrounding this bill.  A child at the
center of a bitter custody dispute may side with one parent and
want to spend time with that parent and not the other.  This
strong desire to avoid one parent may, a family court judge
might conclude, be enhanced by the other parent's bitter
denouncements of that parent, or may be simply be how the child
feels regardless of that parent's alleged efforts to alienate
the child against the other parent.  Alternatively, the child
may not want to spend time with one parent because that parent
makes the child do homework and chores, and the other parent
does not.  At other end of this wide spectrum of possible
scenarios unique to each family, a child may have significant
hostility toward, and not want to spend any time with, another
parent because that parent has tragically sexually abused the
child.

This bill appears to create a hard and fast rule that an
evaluator and a court may never determine that a child's
refusal to visit with the other parent can be caused by the
efforts of the parent to alienate the child's from the other
parent.  However, such a bright line rule is in sharp contrast
to the long-standing foundational premise contained in
California's and most other states' Family Codes providing
broad and unfettered discretion to the trier of fact which has
been felt to be critical for making child custody decisions
that are in the best interests of children.

Family law judicial officers and counsel have long testified in
the Legislature that determining custody arrangements that
appear to be in the best interests of children is one of the
toughest jobs a court officer and an evaluator can ever make.
These decisions they state are extremely fact intensive







                                                     AB 612
                                                     Page 8

inquiries - each family situation and each child is unique, and
every judicial inquiry must consider those unique situations,
and have as much potential evidence before the court as the
court deems admissible and illuminating.  However they note,
judicial discretion in this area is not unfettered.  Courts are
limited by the rules of evidence.  (See Evidence Code Section
801.)  However, beyond that, opponents of this measure suggest
that any broad restriction on the information the court can
consider could well unintentionally compromise the court's
ability to make determinations that are in children's best
interests, and could inadvertently compromise child safety.
Family law statutes, opponents note, do provide some limits on
the court's authority in the form of various presumptions, but
judges still have discretion to rebut those presumptions if
they are not in the best interests of the child.  (See Family
Code 3044.)

In opposition to the hard and fast rule this bill seeks to
create, the California Psychological Association writes that
the bill ignores the "significant scientific and agreed-upon
knowledge base of the last 30 years on children who are
alienated.  The proposed amendments to this scientifically
inaccurate measure assume the truth of any accusation of abuse.
. . ."  The Family Law Section of the State Bar, also in
opposition, notes that while Parental Alienation Syndrome in
not a viable theory, parents may still influence a child's
feelings about the other parent:

  More pernicious attempts could be made by parent who
  cancels the other parent's visit without telling the
  child that the visit has been cancelled, creating a
  "let down" for the child when that parent does not
  "show up" for the visit.  Threats could also be made
  against the child for wanting to have visitation with
  the other parent - "Fine, if you want to see [your
  other parent] tonight, then you are grounded for the
  rest of the week."  Guilt can also be used to
  influence a child to avoid visitation - "I'm not
  feeling well and I wish you would stay here with me,
  but if you have to see [your other parent]  I will
  understand."  Rewards can also be used - "Sure, you
  can see [your other parent] today, but I thought we
  would go play laser tag with your friends today."

While arguing against reliance upon the "discredited" Parental







                                                     AB 612
                                                     Page 9

Alienation Syndrome, a study by the National Council of
Juvenile and Family Court Judges explains the importance of
courts being permitted to use their discretion to distinguish
when children are being manipulated and when they are victims
of abuse:

  The discredited "diagnosis" of "PAS" ? quite apart
  from the scientific invalidity, inappropriately asks
  the court to assume that children's behaviors and
  attitudes towards the parent who claims to be
  "alienated" have no grounding in reality.  It also
  diverts attention from the behaviors of the abusive
  parent, who may have directly influenced the
  children's responses by acting in violent,
  disrespectful, intimidating, humiliating and/or
  discrediting ways toward the child themselves, or the
  children's other parent.  The task for the court is to
  distinguish between situations in which children are
  critical of one parent because they have been
  inappropriately manipulated by the other (taking care
  not to rely solely on subtle indications), and
  situations in which children have their own legitimate
  grounds for criticism or fear of a parent, which will
  likely be the case when that parent has perpetrated
  domestic violence.

(National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges,
 Navigating Custody & Visitation Evaluations in Cases with
Domestic Violence:  A Judges Guide  24 (2004, Revised 2006)
(emphasis added  )  .)


This bill goes well beyond excluding a diagnosis of Parental
Alienation Syndrome in a child abuse case, and provides that
something as simple as a child not wanting to visit a parent
cannot, potentially as a matter of law, be caused by the other
parent.  It may well be reasonable for an evaluator and a court
to find, in a difficult custody case, which many of course are,
that a child does not want to visit the other parent based, in
part, on the high level of animosity between the parents, but
this bill appears to risk preventing a court, regardless of the
facts of the individual case, from making such a determination
and thereby acting in what the court believes to be the best
interests of the child.








                                                     AB 612
                                                     Page 10


Other States:  As noted above, Committee counsel could find no
state in the nation that limits use of parental alienation or
parental alienation syndrome by statute.  On the other hand,
one state - Nevada - trains child custody mediators on parental
alienation (Nevada Court Rules 5.70) and another state - North
Carolina - allows family court fees to be used to support
supervised visitation and exchange centers that offer services
on, among other things, domestic violence, mental illness and
parental alienation (North Carolina Gen. Stat. Section
7A-314.1).

 The Bill Requires That If A Child Custody Evaluation Or
Mediator's Report Contains Any Reference To "Parental
Alienation Syndrome" Or Apparently Any Evidence Of "Parental
Alienation, The Entire Report Is Inadmissible  .  As noted above,
opponents worry that the new admissibility bar contained in the
bill could inadvertently cause significant harm to a child by
excluding an entire report that, while including an
inadmissible reference to "Parental Alienation Syndrome"
nonetheless contains extremely helpful information in the
remainder of the report.  In opposition to this provision, the
Judicial Council wrote the Committee that:

  This sweeping provision is especially onerous for the
  litigants and their children, as these evaluations
  typically takes months of work to complete, and cost
  the parties thousands and even tens of thousands of
  dollars.  While it is certainly appropriate to require
  the court to refrain from considering or admitting
  into evidence any information in an evaluation that
  does not meet the existing admissibility standard for
  expert opinion, it is unnecessary and harmful to the
  interests of the child and the family to require the
  court to exclude the entire evaluation report.  These
  reports are extensive, and may include voluminous
  factual information that would assist the court in
  making its custody determination.

The Family Law Section of the State Bar echoes this concern
that was expressed to the Committee by the Judicial Council:

  In most counties, a Child Custody Evaluation takes
  approximately ninety days to nine months to complete
  (sometimes more depending on the facts of the case).







                                                     AB 612
                                                     Page 11

  By requiring a report, assessment, evaluation and the
  investigation to be inadmissible evidence if
  non-scientific theories were considered, this would
  likely require a new evaluation to be done if this
  provision is violated, thereby extending the time for
  further completion of the new evaluation.  These
  proposed changes will likely lead to more litigation
  over all of these issues stated above, as well as
  whether or not a non-scientific theory was considered
  within make the recommendations of the report, thereby
  creating more costs for litigants, taking more time to
  resolve custody disputes, and ultimately leaving
  children in limbo for a longer periods of time.

Moreover, if the report reveals that the child is in an unsafe
custodial arrangement, the court under this bill would   not be
able to consider that information and issue an order to better
protect the child, but instead would likely start the whole
evaluation or mediation all over again -- thus potentially
leaving the child in what could regrettably be a dangerous
situation.

 Possible Approach The Author May Wish to Consider  :  In the
event the Committee potentially concludes there may be as yet
insufficient evidence supporting the proposed ban on the use of
judicial discretion in this area, the Committee may nonetheless
conclude that the first sentence of the bill's legislative
intent section would be a potentially helpful admonition to
codify in the Family Code.  This helpful   statement of
legislative intent reads as follows:

   It is the intent of the Legislature that courts strive
  to protect the safety and best interests of children
  in custody matters by ensuring that allegations of
  physical and sexual abuse are investigated
  appropriately or referrals are made to the child
  welfare services agency.

The Committee may thus wish to discuss with the author  his
openness to codifying this helpful statement of legislative
intent in the Family Code.

 ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :  In support of the bill, proponents cite
research currently being undertaken by a California State
University professor that "shows that parents who request







                                                     AB 612
                                                     Page 12

protection from family courts for their children from incest or
physical abuse by the child's other parent often lose custody
of those children to the accused parent."  They also cite to an
additional report that estimates that courts in the Unites
States often mistakenly place children in the custody of
abusers.

The National Safe Child Coalition writes:  "Sadly, in far too
many cases, children end up in the custody of perpetrators.
Indeed, alienation claims have become ubiquitous in custody
cases where domestic violence or child abuse is alleged as
grounds to reject mothers' requests to limit parental access to
their children. . . . Perpetrators must be held responsible for
their terror, harm, and lethal violence; concomitantly, court
and representational practices and intervention should not be
unwitting allies or silent partners of subjugation, bias, and
burden.  Battered women seeking safety and justice for
themselves and their children should not become victims
themselves of the family court system due to the use of
nonscientific theories as a basis for child custody evaluations
and decisions."

The Courageous Kids Network write that their members "were
harmed by having one of our parents accused of alienating is
from the other parent when we were children.  We were placed in
the custody of our violent and sexually abusive parents because
judges in family court believed we were not telling the truth
about the abuse.  . . . We were not making it up.  We had
bruises, nightmare, physical illnesses, post-traumatic stress
symptoms, emotional issues, and our own testimony to show that
our fathers were hurting us badly."

 ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION  :  The California Psychological
Association opposes the bill, writing that "this legislation
attempts to make illegal the process of clinical inference,
which is basic to the practice of psychology.  AB 612 . . . is
vague, contains terms that are undefined or unworkable, and
will create confusion among the professionals who perform child
custody evaluations. . . .  AB 612 does not serve in the best
interest of the public or the best interests of children caught
up in the family court system.  It creates standards that are
not based on science or practice and will essentially prohibit
psychologists from engaging in good, evenhanded, thorough
evaluations."








                                                     AB 612
                                                     Page 13

The California Judges Association opposes the bill because it
would "take away judicial discretion and replace it with an
unclear and inflexible standard for determining whether to
admit evidence in a child custody hearing.  The bill would
hinder the courts, confuse and delay child custody evaluators,
and burden children and their families."  Likewise, the Family
Law Section of the State Bar opposes the bill because "although
the stated purpose of AB 612 is to protect children, the bill
would actually place children at risk by prohibiting courts and
child custody evaluators from considering evidence relevant to
the best interests of the child."

 Previous Legislation  :  AB 612 (Ruskin), 2007, as substantially
amended by this  C   c  ommittee, would have limited when, in
connection with a child custody evaluation, the court can order
the psychological testing of a parent and who can perform such
testing.  The bill also excluded nonscientific labels and
diagnoses that are not consistent with standards generally
accepted by the medical, psychiatric and psychological
communities.  The bill passed out of the Assembly, but did not
pass off the Senate Floor.

 REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :

 Support

Center for Judicial Excellence (sponsor)
Calegislation
California Protective Parents Association
Child Abuse Solutions
Children's Civil Rights Union
Courageous Kids Network
Helen Vine Detox Center
Marin City Golden Gate Village Resident Council
Mothers in Crisis Coalition
National Safe Child Coalition
Women Helping All People

 Opposition

American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Northern California
Chapter
Association of Certified Family Law Specialists
Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, California
California Judges Association
California Psychological Association
Family Law Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association
Family Law Section of the Santa Monica Bar Association
Family Law Section of the State Bar


 Analysis Prepared by  :    Leora Gershenzon / JUD. / (916)
319-2334


http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/asm/ab_0601-0650/ab_612_cfa_20090427_122936_asm_comm.html
BILL NUMBER: AB 612 AMENDED BILL TEXT AMENDED IN SENATE JUNE 28, 2009 AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY MAY 5, 2009 AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY APRIL 22, 2009 INTRODUCED BY Assembly Member Beall (Coauthors: Assembly Members Ma, Smyth, and Torrico) (Coauthor: Senator Yee) FEBRUARY 25, 2009 An act to add Section 3027.3 to the Family Code, relating to custody and visitation. LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST AB 612, as amended, Beall. Custody and visitation: nonscientific theories. Existing law governs the determination of child custody and visitation with a child in contested proceedings. Existing law provides for the use of court-appointed investigators, as defined, including court-appointed evaluators directed by the court to conduct a child custody investigation in those proceedings. Existing law authorizes the court to appoint a child custody evaluator if the court determines it is in the best interest of the child. If directed by the court, the evaluator is required to file a written confidential report on his or her evaluation. The report may be received in evidence on stipulation of all interested parties and is competent evidence as to all matters contained in the report. Existing law requires all child custody evaluators to have completed specified training relating to domestic violence and child abuse. Existing law requires the Judicial Council to adopt standards for court-connected evaluations, investigations, and assessments related to child custody. Existing law also requires the Judicial Council to formulate rules of court that establish education, experience, and training requirements for child custody evaluators and to establish related forms, as specified. This bill would provide that a child's expression of significant hostility toward a parent may be admitted as possible corroborating evidence that the parent has abused the child. The bill would prohibit a court from concluding that an accusation of child physical or sexual abuse against a parent is false based solely on the child's expression of significant hostility toward the parent. The bill would also require that, on and after January 1, 2010, these provisions be included in all training required of child custody evaluators, and would, consequently, require the Judicial Council to revise training standards for child custody evaluators allegations of physical or sexual abuse against a child are to be investigated using specified methods of data collection and analysis. The bill would provide that the rules of evidence applicable in criminal proceedings shall apply whenever the court considers an allegation of physical or sexual abuse against a child in a custody proceeding. The bill would also provide that unproven, nonscientific theories, including, but not limited to, alienation theories, as specified, are not consistent with generally accepted clinical, forensic, scientific, diagnostic, or medical standards. The bill would prohibit a court from relying upon an unproven, unscientific theory and from accepting into evidence any finding provided by an expert witness or court appointed professional who has relied on an unproven, nonscientific theory that is a basis for that finding. The bill would require the Judicial Council to provide training consistent with these provisions . The bill would include a statement of legislative intent. Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: no. THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: SECTION 1. It is the intent of the Legislature that courts strive to protect the safety of children by ensuring that abuse allegations are investigated appropriately and that protecting children from physical and sexual abuse is the highest priority in custody and visitation decisions. SEC. 2. Section 3027.3 is added to the Family Code , to read: 3027.3. (a) Allegations of physical or sexual abuse against a child are to be investigated using methods of data collection and analysis consistent with the requirements of Section 3118, as further clarified in paragraph (2) of subdivision (e) of Rule of Court 5.220, as it read on January 1, 2009. (b) The rules of evidence applicable in criminal proceedings shall apply whenever the court considers an allegation of physical or sexual abuse against a child in a proceeding pursuant to this division. (c) Unproven, nonscientific theories, including, but not limited to, alienation theories that assume that a child's report of physical or sexual abuse by one parent is influenced or fabricated by the other parent, are not consistent with generally accepted clinical, forensic, scientific, diagnostic, or medical standards. The court may not rely upon an unproven, unscientific theory and the court may not accept into evidence any finding provided by an expert witness or court appointed professional who has relied on an unproven, nonscientific theory that is a basis for that finding. (d) Nothing in this section shall limit the consideration of actual evidence, behaviors, statements, or conduct by either parent or by the child. (e) The Judicial Council shall provide training consistent with this section. SECTION 1. It is the intent of the Legislature that courts strive to protect the safety and best interest of children in custody matters by ensuring that allegations of physical and sexual abuse are investigated appropriately or referrals are made to the child welfare services agency. SEC. 2. Section 3027.3 is added to the Family Code, to read: 3027.3. (a) A child's expression of significant hostility toward a parent may, in the discretion of the court, be admitted as possible corroborating evidence that the parent has abused the child. The court may not conclude that an accusation of child physical or sexual abuse against a parent is false based solely on the child's expression of significant hostility toward the parent. (b) On and after January 1, 2010, the provisions of this section shall be included in all training required pursuant to Section 3110.5.