Couples that obtain a California default divorce judgment are usually in one of two situations. Often, these parties either have no issues to address or resolve with the court, or they have worked out an amicable divorce agreement. However, sometimes the respondent fails to file a response or cooperate with the petitioner to address or resolve marital issues. Luckily, in all three of these situations, couples can still obtain a default divorce judgment by the court.
What is a Default Divorce Judgment?
A default judgment is a binding judgment entered by the court in favor of one party. This judgment occurs due to a lack of action or failure to take action by the other party in the case. Therefore, the default judgment is usually in favor of the plaintiff or petitioner. In such cases, the court enters this judgment based on the relief requested in the original petition.
For a court to render a default judgment, the petitioning documents must set forth accurate, clear, concise details of all issues. However, if the petitioning documents are deficient in this information, the court may reject the petitioner’s request for a default judgment, and require them to amend the forms and re-serve the respondent.
How to Get a California Default Divorce Judgment
The first step to obtaining a California default divorce judgment is filing the initiating petition paperwork to start the process. Then, this petition for divorce, legal separation, or annulment is filed with the court and issued a case number. All future documents filed in the divorce proceeding must refer to the assigned case number.
After filing their case, the petitioner must formally serve their spouse with the divorce, legal separation, or annulment paperwork. This starts the clock running and sets the timeline for submitting a default divorce judgment to the court.
After the petitioner serves the initiating documents, the respondent has 30 days to file a response. During this time, the petitioner should comply with the mandatory disclosure requirements and serve their spouse with a preliminary declaration of disclosure, schedule of assets and debts, and income and expense declaration. This first preliminary disclosure is absolutely mandatory for the petitioner; however, the second and final disclosure requirements may be waived.
If the respondent fails to file a response on the 31st day, the petitioner may submit a request to enter default along with the other documentation and mandatory forms the court requires to enter a default divorce judgment.
Default Divorce Hearing
Couples do not typically require a default divorce hearing. However, judges occasionally refuse to sign a default judgment based on the submitted paperwork. In this situation, you may need to ask for a formal hearing before the judge.
Furthermore, the court may also decide that the initiating petition was deficient and did not contain sufficient factual and supporting information to enable a default judgment. In this unfortunate situation, the judge may ask the petitioner to amend and re-serve the petition on the other party with more detailed information.
Keep in mind that an annulment always requires a hearing. Therefore, the court will not enter a default judgment without formal, in-court testimony.
How A People’s Choice Can Help With Your California Default Divorce Judgment
A People’s Choice has over 35 years experience helping people successfully navigate the complex California court system. We can help you avoid many of the pitfalls that cause the court to reject your default divorce judgment. Whether you are just starting the divorce process or trying to fix a rejected default divorce judgment, we can get your divorce on track for quick processing. Contact us today – you will be surprised just how reasonable our professional help is!
How to Modify or Change a Divorce Judgment by Motion
A motion to modify a divorce judgment is less complex and less expensive than filling an appeal. Keep in mind that only certain aspects of a divorce judgment are modifiable by motion. Typical issues that can usuallybe modified post judgment are about the children. Furthermore, there must be a significant change in circumstances for the court to modify a judgment. For example, if a significant change in circumstances requires that a child custody order should be modified, the court may look at the situation to decide what is in the child’s best interest based on the new circumstances. Other issues that are usually modified post judgment include the modification of child and spousal support.
If a party asks to modify a judgment within six months of a divorce judgment, the court will often question the intent of the party filing the motion. To modify a divorce judgment you must file a Request for Order. It is fairly easy to file these types of modification motions without hiring an attorney. We do recommend, however, that you hire a professional legal document assistant who is familiar with this process.
How to File an Appeal to Change a Divorce Judgment
Modifying a divorce judgment by appeal is a much more difficult process. First of all, to win an appeal, the party filing the appeal needs to prove to the court that significant error occurred during trial. In addition, the error must be based on either fact and/or the law. The party trying to appeal the judgment must give the opposing party notice of the appeal. The moving party must meet strict deadlines and procedures when filing the appeal.
The moving party must prepare a record of appeal. The record of appeal will consist of the court reporter’s transcript and the clerk’s record. It is essential to have a court reporter at your trial to capture the oral arguments made and court rulings. The clerk’s record will consist of all documents filed with the court by the parties (example – pleadings and exhibits).
Lastly, both parties will need to file an appellate brief and make oral arguments before the court. The appellate court will review the brief, oral arguments, and relevant papers and make a ruling. The court may uphold the trial court’s decision, send the case back to trial court for a new trial, or modify the trial court’s ruling.
Filing an appeal to change a divorce judgment will require hiring an attorney who is familiar with appellate law. It is not a process we would recommend that you attempt to tackle on your own.
If you want to modify your divorce judgment to change child custody, visitation, or child or spousal support, A People’s Choice can help prepare the legal documents you need. We can also help with other types of post-judgment motions. Contact us for more information about the legal document preparation services we provide in California family law cases. You can reach us at 800-747-2780.
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