State Audit Questions Qualifications of Family Court Personnel
By Peter Jamison, Thu., Jan. 20 2011 @ 5:13PM
The California State Auditor released a report today questioning the qualifications of experts who make child-custody recommendations for the family courts in Marin and Sacramento counties.
The report, which you can read in full here, found that neither county's family court system could produce adequate documentation of the competence of the psychologists and social workers who make critical recommendations to judges in disputed custody cases.
The audit noted, among other findings, that seven of the Sacramento family court's 20 mediators "appeared not to possess the minimum qualifications and training requirements" for their jobs and and that the Marin family court "did not verify that the mediators had met the initial training requirements" when hiring them.
The audit also found that neither court was keeping track of complaints from families.
"We finally have credible government data to back up the many years of horrific complaints we've received from parents and children whose lives are being destroyed by a family court system run amok," Kathleen Russell of the Marin County-based Center for Judicial Excellence, which has pushed for reform of family courts across the country, said in response to the audit.
Policy matters regarding the state's family courts are emotionally charged, given the nature of the cases and and their life-altering outcomes. Activists have criticized the system for poor custody decisions and a lack of transparency.