Changes in the law could make divorce more costly – California Penal Code Section 217

By: Wallin & Klarich

Due to recent changes in California family law that have gone into effect at the start of this year, all hearings in a divorce action will now require oral testimony unless the parties waive that right or if the family court judge finds good cause to exclude oral testimony (Family Code Section 217(a) & (b)).

For most divorce hearings prior to this new law, testimony was normally submitted to the court in writing by declaration. Now, it appears that anyone who previously signed declarations will be required to testify in court, which can include the divorcing parties as well as all experts and third-party witnesses. Depending on the case, this could result in a long roster of testifying witnesses.

Although this change will allow people to feel as if their voices are being heard by the court – and will also enable the court to gauge the credibility of the live testimony through direct observations – it can further hinder an already bogged down system.

Since preparing oral testimony can take time, requiring oral testimony may actually cause more delay. This delay can then result in more legal costs to the litigants. This may also create more financial burden for the system, especially in a time where government is downsizing and finding ways to cut back. To avoid backing up the system with live testimony hearings, the government will need to increase the number of courts, judges, and staff to administer the hearings.

Since it may now take longer to get a court hearing, you will need the legal assistance of an experienced family law attorney who can navigate the system to best ensure that you resolve your matter in a timely fashion. Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have been in practice for over 30 years and can help you get your case done without costly delays. Call us today at 888-749-7428 or visit us online at We will be there for you when you call.

Posted In: Family Law