Family Law Section

News from the Section

Send us your Nominations for the 2015 Family Law Awards

The Executive Committee for the Family Law Section of the State Bar of California (FLEXCOM) is seeking nominations for outstanding contributions to the practice of family law for 2014. The award categories are Family Law Judicial Officer of the Year, Family Law Lifetime Achievement Award, Excellence in Family Law, Court Staff Award, and Barrister of the Year. For more information, see the 2015 Family Law Awards Nomination Form.

Message from the Editor

When I describe the "mission" of the Family Law Section to colleagues, I talk about improving the practice of family law across the state of California. Upon first joining the Executive Committee in 2009, I initially viewed legislative advocacy as being the primary method through which that mission is furthered. As the months unfolded, I was quickly apprised of the equally important role FlexCom plays in the field of continuing education. With our robust offerings of in-person workshops and webinars, it is abundantly clear education and legislation are on equal footing in the sphere of our influence.

Our online presence remains vibrant. Taking only a few minutes to peruse the online catalog of Family Law Section-sponsored webinars reinforces the notion that something is available for everybody. And, that library is supplemented monthly with the presentation of live webinars on a variety of topics. In recent years, FlexCom has moved toward creating a sustainable model of live education to complement its online presence. As you'll see below, this groundwork has laid the foundation for an exciting live education program in 2015.

One of the great things about this continuing education effort is its ability to bring all Section members into the fold. If you're interested in sharing your expertise with the Section, we can provide all the logistics necessary to present a webinar. If you want to limit your participation to learning information on hot topics in family law, we have plenty of offerings to choose from. Either way, your involvement in continuing education helps FlexCom promote its mission. And for doing so, I say thank you.

---Andrew Cain

4 Hours of Self-Study CLE in Legal Ethics -- Complimentary for Members of the Family Law Section!

As a 2014 benefit of Section membership, we are pleased to offer four hours of MCLE credit in the field of Legal Ethics. That's enough to fulfill the Ethics requirement.

The Section thanks you for your membership!If you were purchasing these courses individually in our Online Catalog, they would cost $140 -- so that's your Section membership more than paid for, and then some!

Just watch these programs, and keep a record of having done so in the event you're audited for MCLE compliance.

You can access these programs and the accompanying written materials any time this year in the Members Only Area.

The programs are:

  • Avoiding the State Bar Disciplinary System
  • Client Trust Accounting Fundamentals
  • Ethical Implications for Lawyers in Cyberspace and Social Media
  • Ethics and Civility: Want an Extension? Forget about It!


Webinar: Cultural Competency in Domestic Violence Cases

Thursday, December 18, 2015, 12 noon. - 1 p.m.

This program offers 1 hour Participatory MCLE Credit in Elimination of Bias and 1 hour Legal Specialization credit in Family Law. You must register in advance in order to participate.

Litigating Culture in Domestic Violence (D.V) is seeking safety in unchartered waters. It is inevitable and dangerous but rewarding.

What if you represent a client who is charged with verbal and physical abuse and rape of his newly arrived bride from another culture? In IRMO J.Q. and T.B., J.Q. (2014) 223 Cal. App. 4th 687 (CA4-3), culture was tried side by side of the allegation of D.V. At the end culture prevailed, and D.V. denied. The Trial Court found that in light of the cultural issues involved, the evidence of physical and verbal abuse was not conclusive enough to find D.V.

The Appellate Court affirmed. In denying the allegation of D.V., the Trial Court considered three issues:

1. The cultural background of the Chinese victim, proximity of the alleged D.V. to the arrival of the victim from China, the Japanese/Chinese culture allowing control of the family's finances by woman not acceptable by American men, and insincere religious presentations and actions of the parties.

2. The language barrier between the Parties requiring use of interpreters and translation machines, insufficiency of D.V. forms reflecting cultural nuances, holding back information by both Parties, and unreliability of the court translator.

3. The behavior of the Parties in the courtroom neither fully open nor forthcoming, the victim's aggressive and combative demeanor, emphatic testimony, and evasive answers. The Defendant's calm and composed demeanor, inside and outside, even when his facial expression showed anger.

IRMO J.Q. and T.B., J.Q. (2014) 223 Cal. App. 4th 687, is a good example of use of culture in a D.V. litigation. In the unpublished portion of the case, the Appellate Court showed dissatisfaction with the trial judges sailing in the cultural waters, yet found it relevant and dispositive of the issues before it.

In the Cultural Competency in Domestic Violence Cases webinar, we learn how to raise sail and point helm of culture in the turbulent waters of the Domestic Violence litigation. A Judicial Officer, a Psychologist and a Family Law Specialist share their experience, knowledge and research in this very crucial and interesting area of family practice with you. With Speakers Abbas Hadjian, Cynthia Loo and Foojan Zeini.

Webinar: Identifying and Managing Family Law Clients with Chemical Dependency

Thursday, January 8, 2015, 12 noon. - 1 p.m.

This program offers1 hour participatory MCLE Credit in the area of Competency Issues; 1 hour Legal Specialization in the area of Family Law. You must register in advance in order to participate.

Successfully advising or opposing Family Law clients suffering from chemical dependency requires specific knowledge in a wide range of specialties. This seminar will identify those specialties and related issues practitioners need to be aware of from intake until judgment and beyond. With speakers Robert Owen Boyd, Ph. D. and Jason Elter.

Webinar Replay: Ethical Risk Management for Attorneys Serving Families through Change: Dissolution & Death

Thursday, January 15, 2015, 12 noon. - 1:30 p.m.

This program offers 1.5 Participatory MCLE Credits in Legal Ethics and 1.5 Legal Specialization credit in Family Law. You must register in advance in order to participate.

Explores common risk management issues faced by attorneys serving the needs of families through their significant life changes. Learn how awareness of the Rules of Professional Conduct and other statutes regulating the practice of law help attorneys avoid risk management pitfalls that can lead to claims. With speakers Jennifer Becker, Partner; John A. Hartog, and John Manoogian.

Webinar Replay: Bias - The Enemy of Persuasion

Thursday, January 29, 2015, 12 noon- 1 p.m.

This program offers 1 hour Participatory MCLE Credit in Legal Ethics and 1 hour Legal Specialization credit in Family Law. You must register in advance in order to participate.

Snap judgments, preconceived notions, and stereotypes sometimes have a greater effect on the decision-making process than thee evidence of the law. This trial advocacy course will identify the sources of bias which may influence family law judicial officers or child custody evaluators, and how to overcome bias in the courtroom. With speaker Christopher C. Melcher.

Essentials is back for 2015! Save the date! Live - All day - Top Notch - Education

The Family Law Section delivered the Essentials of a Family Law Case to approximately 100 attorneys in San Francisco 18 months ago. Following this resounding success, the Section expanded to provide the Essentials of a Family law Trial at four locations across the state earlier this year. On the heels of these successful endeavors, the Family Law Section immediately initiated planning for the 2015 presentations. The planning has reached fruition, as the Family Law Section is pleased to announce its 2015 live education offering.

Family Law Essentials Presents: Discovering the Theory of your Case and Proving it at Trial. The focus of this seminar will be on the interplay between discovery and admitted evidence. The Section once again has lined up a stellar panel of bench officers and attorneys to provide varying perspectives. The following dates and locations have been confirmed:

San Diego: March 2, 2015
Los Angeles: March 23, 2015
Oakland: April 17, 2015

The Section hopes to add a fourth location within the next few weeks. Stay tuned to the ENews for information on that location, as well as details on the program and registration.

Reminder -- Your Opportunity to Apply for Executive Committee Involvement is Now

The State Bar annually accepts applications from individuals interested in being appointed to serve on committees and commissions. Each of the 16 State Bar Section Executive Committees recruits members through this process. As some members of the Family Law Section Executive Committee conclude their three year term, we expect the need to fill multiple vacancies. Therefore, we are encouraging Section members to submit their application to be considered for FlexCom service. Each application will be reviewed by existing executive committee members and advisors as part of a thorough vetting process.

If ultimately appointed by the Bar to join the Executive Committee, you will have a voice in each of the areas influenced by our work. This includes legislation, continuing education, policy, awards and so much more. For a copy of the application and details on the process, please visit HERE. If you have any questions about FlexCom service, please contact Chair Raymond Goldstein Vice Chair Vanessa Kirker Wright.

Attorney Tip of the Month

Last month, the ENews introduced a new regular feature titled "Attorney Tip of the Month." The idea is to capitalize upon the collective experience and expertise of the Section membership through the sharing of information. Pointers on specific practice areas or general tips on the approach to family law are welcome. If you have a tip to share with the membership, please email Andrew Cain. In the meantime, please enjoy this month's friendly advice.

"Clients going through a divorce often lose sight of those caught in the middle of their conflict. Often times this means the children become the unintended victims of their inability to resolve disputes. Studies show that children of parents going through divorce are more likely to experience delinquent behaviors, a reduction in the ability to maintain supportive friendships and dating relationships and less trust in their future spouse. Even in the early stages of representing a client in a divorce action, it can be helpful to offer reminders of these effects. Show them information that supports these findings and reinforce the importance of keeping the children at the forefront any time you see the conflict spiraling downward."

Application period for Executive Committee service now open

The State Bar has posted the applications for 2015 commission and committee appointments. While we support any interest our members have in being involved with the Bar, FlexCom specifically is looking for the cream of the attorney crop to join its ranks for a three-year term. Service on FlexCom allows you to be a part of shaping the direction of the Section's efforts in legislation, education, policy, member benefits and so much more.

The application deadline is February 2, 2015. The application can be found in Word and PDF format HERE. If you have any questions about FlexCom service, please contact Chair Raymond Goldstein at or Vice Chair Vanessa Kirker-Wright at

Other News

Save money with CEB

CEB Discount Program for Section MembersContinuing Education of the Bar, California (CEB) is extending some special discount offers to our section. As a member of the Family Law Section, you're eligible for:

  • 10% off selected CEB print or online books
  • A rebate on your section dues that can be applied to the cost of a CEB Gold CLE Passport or a CLE program ticket

A complete list of the products eligible for a discount is available on a CEB web page accessible through our Members Only Area. Information about the section dues rebate program can be found on the CEB Web site.

Free Access to Attorney's BriefCase OnCall™

As a membership benefit, State Bar Family Law Section members have free access to BriefCase OnCall™, an online updating service from Attorney’s BriefCase® Legal Research Software. OnCall™ provides the following features:

  • Indexed summaries of all cases going back approximately six months relating to California Family Law, Juvenile Law, Evidence and PreTrial Adjudication.
  • Full text of all summarized opinions.
  • Week in Brief: An at-a-glance summary of all new cases by case name and holding in the four practice areas. (Week in Brief is also available by email as described below.)

For the details of the offer, see Attorney's BriefCase in the Family Law Section's Members Only Area.

Member Benefits for the State Bar Family Law Section

In addition to the discounts from CEB and access to Briefcase OnCall, the Family Law Section encourages you to take advantage of the benefits listed below.If you have any questions concerning the Family Law Section or the benefits available to you with your membership, please feel free to contact the Chair of our Member Services Subcommittee, S. Roger Rombro at or 310-545-1900.. These benefits include:

  • Receipt of the quarterly Family Law Newsletter with articles by leading attorneys and experts throughout California;
  • Timely and cost effective family law substantive education provided by state-wide experts;
  • Receipt of timely family law notifications through E-Blasts and E-News;
  • Free online downloads that you your ethics, elimination of bias, and substance abuse credits at your convenience;
  • Participation in your local regional standing committee commenting on and developing pending family law legislation;
  • CEB discounts: $85.00 discount on either CEB's Gold CLE Passport or on any single full priced MCLE ticket, as well as 10% discount on selected printed and online materials.
  • Attorney's Briefcase discounts: Week in Brief at no charge, as well as unlimited free access to BriefCase OnCall, and 20% discount on the initial purchase price of Attorney's BriefCase software, regularly $1,200.00;
  • The Rutter Group (TRG) and California Family Law Report (CFLR) discounts: $75.00 discounts on all Rutter and CLFR seminars, as well as a 30% discount on all Rutter and CFLR products and publications.

Your Legal Rights"Your Legal Rights"

The Family Law Section is a sponsor of the radio program 'Your Legal Rights' which is hosted by Chuck Finney in the San Francisco Bay Area.

FLEXCOM assists in funding this public service radio program. FLEXCOM members are regular contributors. To listen to some past programs, see Your Legal Rights.Family Law Section members can access back issues of the Family Law News, special discounts for Section members and legislative tracking through My State Bar Profile. You can access this information at any time by signing into your State Bar Profile and clocking on Family Law Section - Members Only Area. Or go directly to the Members Only Home Page.

Consumer Education PamphletsConsumer Education Pamphlets Available for Purchase

The State Bar of California's "Get the Legal Facts of Life" Pamphlets are available for purchase from the State Bar. These pamphlets are both educational and informative for your clients.

For more information, see Consumer Education Pamphlets or call the Education Pamphlet Hotline: 888-875-LAWS (888-875-5297).

Online and Self-Study CLE from the Family Law Section

Online AudioView Family Law Section programs over the internet for participatory MCLE credit . Choose from hundreds of hours of official State Bar of California MCLE programs. For more information, see streaming audio and video, and select Family Law Be sure to check out CLEtoGo , downloadable podcasts you can listen to on the BART, or on the drive in or from the office.

Contact Us

Family Law Section
The State Bar of California
180 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105-1639
FAX 415-538-2368