Governor signs Wieckowski bill clarifying family law disclosures in mediation

July 10, 2017

Sacramento – State Senator Bob Wieckowski’s bill clarifying that current mediation confidentiality statutes do not apply to legally-required financial disclosures in family law cases was signed into law today by Governor Jerry Brown.  The bill codifies an appellate court ruling from 2014.

“Senate Bill 217 increases the transparency between divorcing spouses to ensure they have access to full and accurate information upon which to base an equitable division of assets even if they pursue resolution through mediation proceedings,” said Wieckowski, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  “This bill clarifies that financial documents produced for marital dissolution cases in mediation are not subject to confidentiality requirements.”

The 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled in 2014’s Lappe v. Superior Court that the confidentiality statues do not apply to statutorily-mandated disclosures that must be made regardless of whether the parties participate in mediation.  The court found that because the Family Code mandates the assets and liabilities declarations, their introduction in mediation does not shield them from discovery.

The California Supreme Court denied review of the Lappe case, allowing the decision to stand.  Wieckowski authored the bill because the Lappe case is not binding on other appellate courts, raising the possibility that a contrary decision from another district could cause more confusion. 

SB 217 was supported by the Conference of California Bar Associations, the California Dispute Resolution Council and the California Association of Certified Family Law Specialists.

Senator Wieckowski represents the 10th District, which includes southern Alameda County and parts of Santa Clara County.