FAMILY CODE SECTION 3150-3153
3150. (a) If the court determines that it would be in the best
interest of the minor child, the court may appoint private counsel to
represent the interests of the child in a custody or visitation
proceeding, provided that the court and counsel comply with the
requirements set forth in Rules 5.240, 5.241, and 5.242 of the
California Rules of Court.
(b) Upon entering an appearance on behalf of a child pursuant to
this chapter, counsel shall continue to represent that child unless
relieved by the court upon the substitution of other counsel by the
court or for cause.
3151. (a) The child’s counsel appointed under this chapter is
charged with the representation of the child’s best interests. The
role of the child’s counsel is to gather evidence that bears on the
best interests of the child, and present that admissible evidence to
the court in any manner appropriate for the counsel of a party. If
the child so desires, the child’s counsel shall present the child’s
wishes to the court. The counsel’s duties, unless under the
circumstances it is inappropriate to exercise the duty, include
interviewing the child, reviewing the court files and all accessible
relevant records available to both parties, and making any further
investigations as the counsel considers necessary to ascertain
evidence relevant to the custody or visitation hearings.
(b) Counsel shall serve notices and pleadings on all parties,
consistent with requirements for parties. Counsel shall not be called
as a witness in the proceeding. Counsel may introduce and examine
counsel’s own witnesses, present arguments to the court concerning
the child’s welfare, and participate further in the proceeding to the
degree necessary to represent the child adequately.
(c) The child’s counsel shall have the following rights:
(1) Reasonable access to the child.
(2) Standing to seek affirmative relief on behalf of the child.
(3) Notice of any proceeding, and all phases of that proceeding,
including a request for examination affecting the child.
(4) The right to take any action that is available to a party to
the proceeding, including, but not limited to, the following: filing
pleadings, making evidentiary objections, and presenting evidence and
being heard in the proceeding, which may include, but shall not be
limited to, presenting motions and orders to show cause, and
participating in settlement conferences, trials, seeking writs,
appeals, and arbitrations.
(5) Access to the child’s medical, dental, mental health, and
other health care records, school and educational records, and the
right to interview school personnel, caretakers, health care
providers, mental health professionals, and others who have assessed
the child or provided care to the child. The release of this
information to counsel shall not constitute a waiver of the
confidentiality of the reports, files, and any disclosed
communications. Counsel may interview mediators; however, the
provisions of Sections 3177 and 3182 shall apply.
(6) The right to reasonable advance notice of and the right to
refuse any physical or psychological examination or evaluation, for
purposes of the proceeding, which has not been ordered by the court.
(7) The right to assert or waive any privilege on behalf of the
(8) The right to seek independent psychological or physical
examination or evaluation of the child for purposes of the pending
proceeding, upon approval by the court.
3152. (a) The child’s counsel may, upon noticed motion to all
parties and the local child protective services agency, request the
court to authorize release of relevant reports or files, concerning
the child represented by the counsel, of the relevant local child
protective services agency.
(b) The court shall review the reports or files in camera in order
to determine whether they are relevant to the pending action and
whether and to what extent they should be released to the child’s
(c) Neither the review by the court nor the release to counsel
shall constitute a waiver of the confidentiality of the reports and
files. Counsel shall not disclose the contents or existence of the
reports or files to anyone unless otherwise permitted by law.
3153. (a) If the court appoints counsel under this chapter to
represent the child, counsel shall receive a reasonable sum for
compensation and expenses, the amount of which shall be determined by
the court. Except as provided in subdivision (b), this amount shall
be paid by the parties in the proportions the court deems just.
(b) Upon its own motion or that of a party, the court shall
determine whether both parties together are financially unable to pay
all or a portion of the cost of counsel appointed pursuant to this
chapter, and the portion of the cost of that counsel which the court
finds the parties are unable to pay shall be paid by the county. The
Judicial Council shall adopt guidelines to assist in determining
financial eligibility for county payment of counsel appointed by the
court pursuant to this chapter.