The law is always changing.  It is an ever-growing morass of legalese and judicial compromise, morphing and oozing and touching every single person in its path.  Politicians love making new laws that deeply impact the lives of families on an everyday basis.  And California always seems to be in the lead in this way, always looking for new ways or angles that might legally favor one special interest over another.

Unfortunately, family law poses no exception to the rule of new legislation.  Several important new laws have been enacted in California over the past year that affect the players in the family law arena in major ways.

Five (5) of the more significant pieces of legislative development are:

1)      (AB 1349)  Legislation that amends Family Code §§7573, 7576, 7612, and 7613 to revise certain provisions regarding the effect of a voluntary declaration of paternity, particularly if a conflicting parentage presumption exists; the bill also permits a sperm donor to be treated as the natural father of a child under specified circumstances;

2)      (AB 458)  Legislation amending Probate Code §1514 and adding Probate Code §§2204-2205 to clarify a parent’s ability to petition for guardianship of his or her child, and establishes requirements for transferring a proceeding to another court in circumstances in which a proceeding that concerns custody or visitation of a minor is pending in one or more counties when a guardianship petition is filed;

3)      (SB 651)  Legislation amending Family Code §§ 297 and 2320, and adding Family Code §§ 297.1 and 298.7 to remove the requirement that domestic partners have a common residence to register; permits establishment of a confidential domestic partnership; and permits same-sex spouses who married in California to petition for dissolution in California without the parties meeting regular residency requirements if neither spouse resides in a jurisdiction that will dissolve the marriage;

4)      (AB 1067)  Legislation amending Code of Civil Procedure §1008 to provide that an order denying a motion for reconsideration is not separately appealable, but if the order that was the subject of the reconsideration motion is appealable, the denial of that motion is reviewable as part of an appeal from that order;

5)      (AB 454)  Legislation amending Code of Civil Procedure §§527.6, 527.8, and 527.85, Family Code §6345, and Welfare & Institutions Code §§213.5 and 15657.03 to require specified notice to a protected party of a proceeding to modify or terminate a protective order before its expiration when that proceeding is brought by someone other than the protected party.