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Family Law Facilitator Services Jason Groce Assistant Family Law Facilitator Contra Costa County.

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Presentation on theme: "Family Law Facilitator Services Jason Groce Assistant Family Law Facilitator Contra Costa County."— Presentation transcript:


2 Family Law Facilitator Services Jason Groce Assistant Family Law Facilitator Contra Costa County

3 INTRODUCTION 1. Assistant Family Law Facilitator with Contra Costa County Superior Court from 2013 to present 2. Child Support Specialist with Department of Child Support Services from 2006 to 2013

4 HISTORY In 1993, the State provided funds to pilot a "Family Law Evaluator" program in 2 Counties - Santa Clara and San Mateo. After 3 years, due to the program's success, The Family Law Facilitator Act was enacted and established a Family Law Facilitator's Office in every County in California. Family Code sections 20000 to 20043

5 HISTORY Assembly Bill 1058 created the Child Support Commissioner and Family Law Facilitator Program in 1996 to address the problem of overburdened courts and the lack of accessible help for people with child support issues who did not have attorneys.

6 HISTORY The program is funded by a combination of federal title IV-D funds and state funds, with the federal government paying two-thirds and one-third provided by state non–trial court funds. “Title IV-D ” refers to title IV-D of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. section 601 et seq.), which requires each state to establish and enforce support orders when public assistance has been spent on behalf of a child. Title IV-D also requires the states to establish and enforce support orders when requested to do so by a parent who is not receiving public assistance.

7 LAW California Family Code 10000 – 10015 is known as the Family Law Facilitator Act. This code section outlines the duties and services of the Family Law Facilitator’s office.

8 LAW In 2005, the legislature provided extra funding to the courts to increase Self-Help services for areas not covered by the Family Law Facilitator's Act and Title IV-D funding (i.e. Child custody/visitation, domestic violence, general civil, small claims, civil harassment, guardianships, etc.). Many Family Law Facilitator's Offices are now combined with the Self-Help Center throughout the state.


10 1. Contra Costa County has Assistant Family Law Facilitators in 3 locations. 2. Six Facilitators in Martinez, one in Richmond, and one full time Facilitator at DCSS 3. In 2013 there were over 30,000 people served by the Facilitators in Contra Costa. 4. Statewide 407,000 litigants were helped by The Family Law Facilitator.

11 PROCESS Family Law Facilitator process at the Child Support Office 1. People first speak to a child support caseworker to determine if their issue can be resolved without a court date 2. They are referred to speak to a Facilitator if they need a hearing to resolve the problem. The child support case workers print out court orders and other documents that may be helpful to the litigant 3. Facilitator interviews the person to discover what facts and issues need to be addressed in the motion.

12 PROCESS 4. Facilitator provides the forms and helps litigant complete all forms necessary to receive a hearing date. 5. Forms are filed by the child support office and served to the other party in the case.

13 BENEFITS Speed It currently takes the Contra Costa County child support office 6 months to review a court order for modification and set a hearing date. If a litigant files their own motion they receive a hearing date in 3 months.

14 BENEFITS Accuracy Forms are completed correctly. All of the litigant’s issues are detailed in the motion reducing the need for repeat hearings. Litigants understand the court process and come prepared for the hearing.

15 BENEFITS Efficiency Speaking with a child support caseworker first reduces the amount of unnecessary court dates to resolve issues. Also the Facilitator can speak directly to the child support workers to make sure all of the litigant’s issues are addressed by the child support office and the court.

16 BENEFITS Emergency Orders Facilitator can promptly assist people who need to file an Ex Parte motion to request an emergency order. Some situations that require temporary emergency orders are severe changes in income, new custody agreements, and improper service by the child support office or other parent.

17 BENEFITS Communication The Facilitator in the child support office can act as a liaison between the court and child support workers. The Facilitator provides the child support office updates on court services and processes. The Facilitator can also provide information to court employees about cases opened by child support services.

18 Jason Groce Superior Court Contra Costa County

19 Family Law Facilitator Services (San Mateo County) Greg Tanaka Family Law Facilitator/Supervising Attorney

20 INTRODUCTION ■Staff Attorney/Supervising Attorney at Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach 2004-2011. ■Family Law Facilitator / Supervising Attorney at San Mateo County Superior Court 2011- Present.

21 STAFF ■2 FLF/SH Attorneys ■Paralegal ■Full-time JusticeCorps Fellow ■Deputy Court Clerk ■9 JusticeCorps Interns ■1-2 Volunteer Attorneys ■2-4 Law Student Interns

22 SAN MATEO COUNTY AT A GLANCE ■Population of 718,451 (2010 U.S. Census) ■FLF serves approximately 10,000 / year ■72% of IVD customers earn less than $2000 / month ■24% Spanish speaking ■63% are NCPs ■40% of support cases are IVD ✷ 56% to modify support ✷ 10% support arrears

23 ■Combined Family Law Facilitator / Self Help Center ■2 Locations: Redwood City and South San Francisco ■Provide forms, information, educational materials and procedural guidance to self- represented litigants ■Review paperwork/pleadings of self-represented litigants SERVICES

24 ■Prepare orders after hearings ✷ Including DVPA calendar ■Prepare support calculations ■Assist parties with stipulations ■Divorce Workshops ✷ Spanish and English ✷ Status Conference Assistance

25 SELF-HELP COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS ■Landlord/Tenant Clinics ✷ Community Legal Services of East Palo Alto ✷ Legal Aid of San Mateo County ■Domestic Violence Clinics/Consumer Rights Clinic ✷ Bay Area Legal Aid SERVICES

26 PARTNERSHIP WITH LCSA ■Child Support Analyst Co-located onsite at FLF once a week ✷ Speak with FLF customers about DCSS services ✷ Assist in opening cases ✷ Provides non-confidential information about existing cases ✷ Approx. 18% of those assisted have opened cases ■LCSA presentation at Divorce Workshops

27 PARTNERSHIP WITH LCSA ■FLF Attorneys have limited 3 rd Party Access to CSE ✷ Look up case info./status (i.e. open/closed, managing county, arrears, financial/legal activities, etc.) ✷ Can view other DCSS open cases that may exist ✷ Can look up caseworker’s contact information ✷ Saves staff time spent calling LCSA about basic questions re: cases ■E-Filing Project: Allows LCSA to e-file Complaint, Summons, and Proof of Service By Mail directly from CSE into Court Case Management System.

28 PARTNERSHIP WITH LCSA ■Constant Communication ✷ FLF attorneys have phone extensions for LCSA attorneys and routinely discuss cases to clarify what litigant needs to address or file. ■Service ✷ FLF serves copies of IVD motions/filings on LCSA for parties assisted in office.

29 Greg Tanaka (650) 261-5650


31 INTRODUCTION ■Kay Hohenwarter ■Admitted to practice in 1990 ■Private Practice, Civil Litigation, 1990-2007 ■Yolo Superior Court Research Attorney 2007-2011 ■Family Law Facilitator/Self-Help Attorney 2011- present

32 FLF SERVICES IN YOLO COUNTY ■Yolo County has 1 Part-time Family Law Facilitator and 1 Part-time Assistant ■The Center is located in the lobby of the 2 Family Law Departments ■In 2014 the Center served approximately 5,000 people in person and 1500 by phone with child support issues ■The Center operates on a first come – first serve basis ■We assist with forms, prepare calculations, stipulations, and orders after hearing for customers who are in court that morning

33 FLF PARTNERSHIP WITH LCSA ■In the Fall 2014 the Court partnered with LCSA setting up an area in the court for their services ■FLF refers customers to LCSA daily for establishment/enforcement of orders ■FLF works with LCSA during the morning law and motion calendar to obtain and prepare stipulations, calculations and orders after hearing for child support ■Research customers child support cases and legal issues in partnership with DCSS ■Explain importance/convenience of opening a case with DCSS ■LCSA refers customers to FLF for custody/arrears

34 BENEFITS TO FLF ■POP Decs ■Accountings ■Info Re Arrears Owed To State/CP ■Calculations ■Assist With Customers Re Support ■1-stop Shop For Customers ■Significant Reduction In Repeat Customers ■Satisfied/Happy Customers ■Referral of Friends and Family

35 BENEFITS TO LCSA ■Ensures LCSA Accessibility As Required By Statutes ■Open Cases ■Obtain Information On NCP ■Assist With Legal Information ■Cost Reduction – Less Duplicity ■Satisfied/Happy Customers ■Referral Of Friends And Family

36 BENEFITS TO LCSA ■Since October 2014, 589 unduplicated families on calendar or visited FLF ■Using JC estimate, 60% of Family Law cases have child support matters = 353 potential families with child support ■Of the 353 families, 270 already had open IV-D cases ■Of the 83 families without an open IV-D case, we opened 16 (12 new and 4 re-opened), and served an additional 19 families = 35 new families served (slide info provided by LCSA)

37 BENEFITS TO LCSA CON’T ■Of the 270 families who already had a IV-D case open, provided a variety of services to 62 families ■Of the 62 families, we received new information on 12 cases, requests for modification from 9 individuals, issued Income Withholding Orders on 2 non custodial parents, completed 4 service or process, and completed 4 stipulations (slide info provided by LCSA)

38 BENEFITS TO LSCA CON’T LCSA opened 79 new cases Rebrand Child Support ✷ Positive internal and external customer experience ✷ Name and logo marketing Increase Never Assisted ✷ Of the 79 cases; 60 are never assisted = 76% ✷ As compared to 20% of total caseload ✷ Percentage paternity establishment on court outreach cases – 89% ✷ As compared to 94% of all cases (slide info provided by LCSA)

39 BENFITS TO LCSA CON’T ■Five Court Outreach Customer Service Surveys Completed ■All five had top marks for all questions ✷ All ranked the quality of services as excellent ✷ All noted that it was “very helpful” to have Child Support co located with the Family Law Courts ✷ All said they would come back to the court building to see child support staff ■Feedback from private bar attorneys has been very complimentary and supportive. (slide info provided by LSCA)

40 BENEFITS TO LCSA CON’T ■Current Support ✷ 37 cases owing current support ($19,866 monthly) 68% of current support on court outreach cases has been paid Compared to 68% of all cases owing current support ■Arrears ✷ 25 cases owe arrears (approx. $69,000) 60% of Court Outreach cases owing arrears have made a payment Compared to 50% of all cases owing arrears have made a payment (slide info provided by LCSA)



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