California Family Code Section 3027.1

Section 3027.1 is within part 2 of division 8 of the Family Code, which governs custody of a minor. Section 3027.1, subdivision (a), allows a court to impose reasonable money sanctions, and any attorney fees incurred in recovering the sanctions, against a person who knowingly makes a false accusation of child abuse or neglect in a child custody proceeding. It provides: "If a court determines, based on the investigation described in Section 3027 or other evidence presented to it, that an accusation of child abuse or neglect made during a child custody proceeding is false and the person making the accusation knew it to be false at the time the accusation was made, the court may impose reasonable money sanctions, not to exceed all costs incurred by the party accused as a direct result of defending the accusation, and reasonable attorney's fees incurred in recovering the sanctions, against the person making the accusation. For the purposes of this section, 'person' includes a witness, a party, or a party's attorney." ( 3027.1, subd. (a).) Section 3027 governs allegations of child sexual abuse made during a child custody proceeding. A court is authorized to take "any reasonable, temporary steps as the court, in its discretion, deems appropriate under the circumstances to protect the child's safety until an investigation can be completed." ( 3027, subd. (a).) To the extent allegations of child sexual abuse are made during a child custody proceeding, the court "may request that the local child welfare services agency conduct an investigation of the allegations pursuant to Section 328 of the Welfare and Institutions Code," which agency shall report its findings to the court upon its completion of the investigation. ( 3027, subd. (b).) Subdivision (b) of section 3027.1 sets forth the notice required for a hearing on a section 3027.1 sanctions motion: "On motion by any person requesting sanctions under this section, the court shall issue its order to show cause why the requested sanctions should not be imposed. The order to show cause shall be served on the person against whom the sanctions are sought and a hearing thereon shall be scheduled by the court to be conducted at least 15 days after the order is served." Finally, subdivision (c) of section 3027.1 states the "remedy provided by this section is in addition to any other remedy provided by law." Section 3020, subdivision (a), sets forth the Legislature's findings and declarations in connection with part 2, and provides in part: "The Legislature finds and declares that it is the public policy of this state to assure that the health, safety, and welfare of children shall be the court's primary concern in determining the best interest of children when making any orders regarding the physical or legal custody or visitation of children. The Legislature further finds and declares that the perpetration of child abuse or domestic violence in a household where a child resides is detrimental to the child." In making a determination of the "best interest of the child," a court must consider, among other factors, the "health, safety, and welfare of the child" ( 3011, subd. (a)), and "any history of abuse by one parent or any other person seeking custody" against "any child" and/or "the other parent." ( 3011, subd. (b)(1), (2).) "As a prerequisite to the consideration of allegations of abuse, the court may require substantial independent corroboration, including, but not limited to, written reports by law enforcement agencies, child protective services or other social welfare agencies, courts, medical facilities, or other public agencies or private nonprofit organizations providing services to victims of sexual assault or domestic violence." ( 3011, subd. (b)(3).) Thus, in the context of a child custody proceeding when allegations of child abuse or neglect arise, before making a custody determination the court necessarily must determine the veracity of such allegations to ensure the court is acting in the "best interest" of the child. ( 3011, subd. (b)(1)-(3).)