California : Family Code: 4250-4253
(provided by Divorce Source, Inc.)
Published 5.20.98

4250. (a) The Legislature finds and declares the following:

(b) Therefore, it is the intent of the Legislature to: (1) provide for commissioners to hear child support cases being enforced by the district attorney; (2) adopt uniform and simplified procedures for all child support cases; and (3) create an Office of the Family Law Facilitator in the courts to provide education, information, and assistance to parents with child support issues.

4251. (a) Commencing July 1, 1997, each superior court shall provide sufficient commissioners to hear Title IV-D child support cases filed by the district attorney. The number of child support commissioners required in each county shall be determined by the Judicial Council as prescribed by paragraph (3) of subdivision (b) of Section 4252. All actions or proceedings filed by the district attorney, or by any other party in a support action or proceeding in which enforcement services are being provided by the district attorney pursuant to Section 11475.1 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, for an order to establish, modify, or enforce child or spousal support, including actions to establish paternity, shall be referred for hearing to a child support commissioner unless a child support commissioner is not available due to exceptional circumstances, as prescribed by the Judicial Council pursuant to paragraph (7) of subdivision (b) of Section 4252.

(b) The commissioner shall act as a temporary judge unless an objection is made by the district attorney or any other party. The Judicial Council shall develop a notice which shall be included on all forms and pleadings used to initiate a child support action or proceeding that advises the parties of their right to review by a superior court judge and how to exercise that right. The parties shall also be advised by the court prior to the commencement of the hearing that the matter is being heard by a commissioner who shall act as a temporary judge unless any party objects to the commissioner acting as a temporary judge. While acting as a temporary judge, the commissioner shall receive no compensation other than compensation as a commissioner.

(c) If any party objects to the commissioner acting as a temporary judge, the commissioner may hear the matter and make findings of fact and a recommended order. Within 10 court days, a judge shall ratify the recommended order unless either party objects to the recommended order, or where a recommended order is in error. In both cases, the judge shall issue a temporary order and schedule a hearing de novo within 10 court days. Any party may waive his or her right to the review hearing at any time.

(d) The commissioner shall, where appropriate, do any of the following:

(e) The commissioner shall, upon application of any party, join issues concerning custody, visitation, and protective orders in the action filed by the district attorney, subject to Section 11350.1 of the Welfare and Institutions Code. After joinder, the commissioner shall:

(f) The district attorney shall be served notice by the moving party of any proceeding under this section in which support is at issue. Any order for support that is entered without the district attorney having received proper notice shall be voidable upon the motion of the district attorney.

4252. (a) One or more child support commissioners shall be appointed by the superior court to perform the duties specified in Section 4251. The child support commissioners first priority always shall be to hear Title IV-D child support cases. The child support commissioners shall specialize in hearing child support cases, and their primary responsibility shall be to hear Title IV-D child support cases. Child support commissioner positions shall not be subject to the limitation on other commissioner positions imposed upon the counties by Article 13 (commencing with Section 70140) of Chapter 5 of Title 8 of the Government Code. The number of child support commissioner positions allotted to each superior court shall be determined by the Judicial Council in accordance with caseload standards developed pursuant to paragraph (3) of subdivision (b), subject to appropriations in the annual Budget Act.

(b) The Judicial Council shall do all of the following:

,ul> (1) Establish minimum qualifications for child support commissioners.
(2) Establish minimum educational and training requirements for child support commissioners and other court personnel that are assigned to Title IV-D child support cases. Training programs shall include both federal and state laws concerning child support, and related issues.
(3) Establish caseload, case processing, and staffing standards for child support commissioners on or before April 1, 1997, which shall set forth the maximum number of cases that each child support commissioner can process. These standards shall be reviewed and, if appropriate, revised by the Judicial Council every two years.
(4) Adopt uniform rules of court and forms for use in Title IV-D child support cases.
(5) Offer technical assistance to counties regarding issues relating to implementation and operation of the child support commissioner system, including assistance related to funding, staffing, and the sharing of resources between counties.
(6) Establish procedures for the distribution of funding to the courts for child support commissioners, family law facilitators pursuant to Division 14 (commencing with Section 10000) and related allowable costs.
(7) Adopt rules that define the exceptional circumstances in which judges may hear Title IV-D child support matters as provided in subdivision (a) of Section 4251.
(8) Undertake other actions as appropriate to ensure the successful implementation and operation of child support commissioners in the counties.

4253. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, when hearing child support matters, a commissioner or referee may enter default orders if the defendant does not respond to notice or other process within the time prescribed to respond to that notice.

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