In 2011, The California Supreme Court upheld the Elkins Legislation, a 2007 law that provides expanded resources for cases heard in the state's family court. In 2005, Elkins, who represented himself, argued that existing family court regulations for submitting evidence created unfair standards for families in divorce proceedings. Elkins argued that the existing regulations led to an unfair division of his marital assets. In 2007, the Supreme Court upheld legislation requiring the Family Court to increase resources and to allow litigants same opportunities for presentation of evidence as any case in a civil court.
Over the past decade, the number of cases filed in California's family court has increased, but resources have remained static. In 2005, the equivalent of 175 full-time judges were responsible for processing 460,000 new family court cases, in addition to older cases still pending from the previous years. The increased caseload can be attributed to several factors, including population growth, better and faster access for domestic violence restraining orders, and new procedures for determining paternity and collecting child support.
The Elkins decision said the court system exists to ensure litigants their fair say in a dispute, and that sensitive matters such as custody, child support and division of marital assets do not deserve to be relegated to a cursory glance. The law calls for increased funding for the purpose of allowing the care and attention that the people of California deserve.
The legal cost associated with divorce can be daunting, and the absence of the right to counsel in Family Court matters means that as many as 75 percent of litigants in Family Court represent themselves. The California court system has created a number of self-help programs, such as the nascent one-day divorce program, in order to help self-represented citizens navigate the legal system and streamline the overburdened courts. Still, many people find it nearly impossible to get a fair shake in divorce court without representation.
Posted in Divorce | Tagged asset division during divorce, Divorce, Elkins Legislation