Improve Domestic Relations Judicial Proceedings
The bill establishes a domestic relations judicial training advisory committee (advisory committee) to develop a domestic relations training program (training program) for judges, magistrates, and court personnel to improve decision-making in domestic relations cases. In carrying out its duties, the advisory committee shall seek input from judges and magistrates from each judicial district, the state court administrator's office, and other stakeholders. The advisory committee is repealed September 1, 2027, and is subject to a sunset review prior to its repeal.
The training program must satisfy training standards established by the chief justice of the Colorado supreme court (chief justice). The state court administrator must begin providing the training program no later than July 1, 2024, and may contract with a third party to provide the training. The training program must include both initial training and continuing training. The bill requires the general assembly to fund development of the training program and requires the judicial department to include in its annual budget request an amount necessary to ensure that judicial officers who hear domestic relations cases and domestic relations court personnel may attend the training program at no cost.
The bill requires the advisory committee to collaborate with the chief justice and state court administrator on the development of the training standards. If the chief justice does not establish training standards by November 30, 2023, the advisory committee establishes the standards. The state court administrator shall coordinate with the advisory committee to a establish an ongoing review process to measure outcomes of the training program. The bill requires the state court administrator to study strategies for increasing opportunities for judicial officers to attend domestic relations judicial training.
The general assembly encourages the chief justice and the chief judges of each judicial district to establish dedicated domestic relations dockets in each district and to assign to those dockets judges, magistrates, and court personnel who have completed the training program. The general assembly further encourages each judicial district nominating commission and the governor, when nominating and appointing replacements for domestic relations judges, to consider candidates who have substantial experience in domestic relations litigation, have attended the domestic relations program as a private attorney, and who demonstrate willingness to serve on a domestic relations docket.
Under existing law, a child or youth who has special needs that create a barrier to the child or youth's adoption is eligible for adoption benefits. To be eligible for adoption benefits, the child or youth must be legally available for adoption. The bill expands this requirement to make a child or youth eligible for adoption benefits if the child or youth has been legally available for adoption within 90 days before the application for the benefits.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)