LAW 18 - FAMILY LAW
updated: 8-25-06

I. INTRODUCTION TO FAMILY LAW AND THIS COURSE

A. THE CONTENTS AND SCOPE OF COURSE

East student will prepare various Family Law Court forms - click here

Each form may be accessed with MS word, or fillable pdf format. If you do not have MS Word, then use the fillable pdf form, fill it in, print it out, keep a copy for your file, then drop it off at Box 161, Prof. Jordan, on campus, if you are an on campus student, or if online, then mail to Prof. Jordan, Director, L.A. Mission Paralegal Studies Program, Box 161 campus mail, 13356 Eldridge Ave, Sylmar, Ca. 91342. If you have MS word, then word process the form, save it on your computer, then go to the assignments page, and the assignment, click on the box, attach file, and attach your MS word file, and click on "submit". You will note the word "received" is posted under your assignments page to ensure you have just submitted the assignment.

All students will use the same set of facts, and information to prepare the court forms - click here for facts of the case.

Textbook will cover: Jurisdiction and Venue; Service of Process
Marriage Relationship; Domestic Violence;
Child Abuse and Neglect; Non-Traditional Families;
And a general overview of the California Family Code.

Emphasis placed on Dissolution including the following topics:
Division of property; Child Custody and Visitation;
Spousal Support; Child Support;
Discovery; Summary Dissolution
Dissolution by Default. Judicial Council Forms

ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR LEGAL SERVICES

A. CALIFORNIA RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT

The rules governing practicing attorneys in California is codified as the California Rules of Professional Conduct (CRPC), part of the California Codes. They are designed to insure that the public receives competently, conscientiously, and fairly performed legal services by the attorney of their choice. The State Bar of California is assigned the task of enforcing these rules. Sanctions for violating these rules of ethical consideration can result in punishment running the gamut from public reproval to disbarment.

These rules regulate the level of competence that an attorney must possess to practice law, the type and amount of legal fees charged, the manner in which office records must be kept, and the manner in which monies are held in trust for clients.
The CPRC are organized into the following five (5) topic areas:

Chapter 1: Professional Integrity in General Rule 1-100
Chapter 2: Relationship Among Members Rule 2-100
Chapter 3: Professional Relationship with Clients Rule 3-100
Chapter 4: Financial Relationship with Clients Rule 4-100
Chapter 5: Advocacy and Representation Rule 5-100

Of particular interest to the family law practice are those mandates found in CRPC § 3-310. This section, divided into specific subsections, generally provides:

§ 3-310(A): If an attorney has or had a relationship with another party in the litigation or is interested in the subject matter of the litigation, that attorney cannot accept or continue the representation without first obtaining the client's INFORMED WRITTEN CONSENT.

§ 3-310(B): No dual representation of both sides to a proceeding where their respective interests conflict is allowed without first obtaining BOTH of their INFORMED WRITTEN CONSENTS.

§ 3-310(C): An attorney must not undertake representation adverse to the interests of a former client (that is, must not represent someone who is suing a former client of the lawyer's) if, by virtue of the former representation that lawyer has obtained CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION pertinent to the current subject matter of the representation, without first obtaining the former client's INFORMED WRITTEN CONSENT.

§ 3-310(F): This section defines "INFORMED" as used above in the context of consent as DISCLOSURE AND ADVICE to the client as to any actual or likely adverse effects to the client. Any client who is in the position of signing such an INFORMED CONSENT must first be referred to some other attorney to advise him as to the consequences of that act.

B. LOS ANGELES COUNTY BAR ASS'N BOARD OF TRUSTEES CODE OF CONDUCT FOR FAMILY LAWYERS

In addition to the rules mentioned above, litigation guidelines adopted by the Los Angeles County Bar Association Board of Trustees expands the professional code of conduct to be adhered to by members of that association. There is a brief listing of the new rules for family law practitioners (FLAs) on pages 17 and 18 of the text.

Basically they say that family law attorneys shouldn't:
- Unnecessarily run up fees for any reason;
- Engage in economic warfare;
- Participate in vindictive litigation;
- Exacerbate the emotional level of a family law dispute;
- Make a personal attack on opposing counsel;
- Harass opposing counsel;
- Use ex parte process unless circumstances really warrant;
- Participate in a child custody dispute motivated by harassment or vindictiveness; and
- Emphatically not take any case involving a former client or any case where there might exist a potential conflict of interest.

 

B. BUSINESS & PROFESSIONS CODE §6450 et seq

There are Codes now in California that apply to the California Paralegal/Legal Assistant. There are now rules and regulations that Paralegals must abide by, and standards that must be met. The Codes should be read in their entirety located within the California Codes Business & Professions Code §§ 6450 - 6456. Basically they define the Paralegal by education and competence. They also list those things that the paralegal may and may not do, and they also cover the consequences for violating the laws, as well as exceptions. §6453 also makes the paralegal subject to the same duty as an attorney, in terms of conflict of interest. They are held to preserve attorney-client privilege, and to maintain confidentiality.

III. CALIFORNIA FAMILY CODE

Effective January 1, 1994, the California legislature created the CALIFORNIA FAMILY CODE. It is divided into 14 DIVISIONS, which are subdivided into PARTS, which are further subdivided into CHAPTERS, with further subdivisions called ARTICLES if they should become necessary. A complete table of these Divisions and their related subdivisions can be found in the appendices at the back of the text. The California Family Code was the natural evolution of the Family Law Act of 1970. The Family Law Act of 1970 created codification of family law within the Civil Code §4000 et seq. However over the next 20 years many statutes were enacted impacting family law. These statutes spanned 5 different California Codes and the legislature set about reorganizing existing laws and in 1994 enacted the Family Code. Prior to the FLA of 1970, California required fault as a ground for marital dissolution. Since 1970 CA has been a "no-fault" state. This means to obtain a divorce all you have to is say "irreconcilable differences" exist which have caused an "irremedial breakdown" of the marriage. Some states still require fault as a ground for divorce, the most common ones are adultery, insanity, and mental cruelty. In California ability to obtain a divorce is very simple, however the requirements necessary to ensure that noone is being dealt with unfairly, create a rather complex and sometimes confusing environment, thus requiring the services of a lawyer to be one's advocate and protect one's interests.

IV. REFERENCE RESOURCES FOR VIRTUAL LECTURE #1

A. CALIFORNIA FAMILY LAW FOR PARALEGALS

Read through Chapter 1 of the text, and look through the Appendices at the back of the book. At the end of Chapter 1 read and think about Questions 1 & 2 of the Questions for Discussion.

B. SELECTED CASE TO READ

The following case and citation effectively illustrate the ethical considerations which must be adhered to. Please click on the Citation below to link to the Case, and read it. There can be questions on Quiz 1 in reference to this case. The case is FLATT V. SUPERIOR COURT OF MARIN COUNTY, (1994) 9 Cal 4th 275.

CALIFORNIA CODES APPLICABLE TO TODAY'S LECTURE

1. CALIFORNIA RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT: CRPC §3-310(A) THROUGH CRPC §3-310(F)

2. BUSINESS & PROFESSIONS CODE: B&P § 6450 THROUGH B&P § 6456