Developments in Family Law
New Laws from the 2023 Legislative Cycle

Protection for Victims and New Definition of “Gravely Disabled”

The 2023 legislative session brought important new protections for victims of domestic including “virtual visitation” and limited discovery. It also produced an expanded definition of “gravely disabled” for the purposes of involuntarily detaining and conserving individuals.

Expanded Basis for Involuntary Commitment

SB 43 expands the definition of “gravely disabled,” a legal standard for involuntarily detaining and conserving individuals. SB 43 expands the definition of “gravely disabled” to include a condition in which a person, as a result of a “mental health disorder, severe substance use disorder, or a co-occurring mental health disorder and a severe substance use disorder, is unable to provide for their basic personal needs for food, clothing, shelter, personal safety or necessary medical care.” (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 5008, subd. (h)(1)(A).)

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Increased Protection for Victims of Domestic Violence

SB 599 requires that the court, in determining whether to place such limitations on visitation, also consider the option of “virtual visitation.” Virtual visitation refers to the use of “audiovisual electronic communication tools to provide contact between a parent and their children as part of a parenting plan or custody order.” It may be either supervised or unsupervised, based on the court’s determination of what is in the best interest of the child. SB 741 limits discovery in domestic violence cases. This legislation, which prohibits discovery under the Civil Discovery Act for purposes of the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, is aimed at preventing ongoing abuse of a victim through use of discovery methods to harass and intimidate the victim.

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