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October 26, 2012

Contact:
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR
                 (619) 997-2495 or Email Gayle


Court cutbacks Nov. 5 could cause significant legal, ethical challenges in divorce, custody, support matters

Clients urged to consider collaborative divorce or mediation as alternatives


(SAN DIEGO) – With California’s court system facing significant budget cutbacks, as of Monday, November 5, official court reporters will no longer be provided in family law civil matters, including most divorce, custody and support proceedings. In addition, effective December 28, 2012, official court reporters will only be available in family matters for domestic violence restraining order hearings, contempt hearings, and Request for Order hearings of 40 minutes or less.

Since state law prohibits the court from using recording equipment as an alternative, parties who want an official written record of their court proceedings will have to pay privately-retained, certified court reporters. They must be appointed by the court and on a list of court-approved certified shorthand reporters. Information on the new policies and procedures is posted to the court’s website at www.sdcourt.ca.gov

Justin A. Reckers, CFP, CDFA, AIF, President of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego (CFLG San Diego), says the looming budget cutbacks give people going through a divorce, separation, or legal change in their custody or support agreements reason to keep matters out of the courts and instead pursue Collaborative Divorce or Mediation.

“The lack of financial resources from government keeps giving us more reasons to not rely upon them for court services,” said Reckers. “The easiest way to not rely upon the courts is to resolve our disputes respectfully outside of the court system through Collaborative Divorce, Mediation and settlement minded orientation from family law attorneys.”

“One of the basic tenets of our system of government is equal access to justice,” said Shawn Weber, attorney and member of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego. “Less financially well-off clients are as entitled to a record of their court matters as those who can buy a staff of reporters. This is troubling and may lead to some legal and ethical challenges that could negate any savings from not having a transcript.”

"Maybe the financial cutbacks in the Family Courts will actually help divorcing parents by causing them to seek more productive and healthier ways to cope with the stresses and conflicts of divorce,” Constance Ahrons, Psychologist and member of the Collaborative Fmaily Law Group of San Diego. “The cutbacks will clearly affect court calendars which are already overtaxed, and angry parents who want to have their day in court will find they have to wait months and months to have their cases heard by a judge. During that time children will be caught in their parents’ ongoing conflicts and the anxiety producing limbo of custody and living arrangements.

“Collaborative divorce and mediation have emerged as humane alternatives to resolving divorce related issues and conflicts."

Collaborative Divorce is an Alternative Dispute Resolution process that strives to preserve the emotional and financial resources of the family while achieving an agreement that considers and respects the welfare of everyone in the family. The collaborative divorce model provides divorcing parties the opportunity to problem solve in a private, confidential setting, with the help of their experts, to reach a creative settlement that meets the needs of their family.

The San Diego County Bar Association hosts a panel discussion on Ethics and the Court Funding Crisis on Thursday, November 1 at 12 noon at the San Diego County Bar Association Center. Members of the Legal Ethics Committee and Judge Timothy B. Taylor will discuss the key ethical rules most likely to be impacted by the loss of court funding and how attorneys should avoid ethical problems arising from this unprecedented crisis.

CFLG is online at www.collaborativefamilylawsandiego.com, and LinkedIn at http://bit.ly/LinkedIn-CFLGSanDiego

About Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego

The Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego is an association of attorneys, mental health professionals and financial advisors working together to learn, practice, and promote collaborative processes for problem solving and the peaceful resolution of family law issues, with an eye toward preserving the emotional, as well as the financial, assets of the family. Its goal is to transform the resolution of family law issues through respectful, collaborative processes that protect the integrity and health of family relationships and eliminate the need of families to resort to court litigation.