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Request for statement of decision in dissolution (divorce) in California

A request for a statement of decision in a dissolution (divorce) case in California is the topic of this blog post.  A request for a statement of decision in a California divorce case is authorized by Code of Civil Procedure section 632 and Family Code section 210.

Requesting a statement of decision is an excellent idea in any contested divorce case in California particularly where there are numerous issues such as child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support etc., that were decided at the trial.

A statement of decision is where the Court states the legal reasoning for its decision on certain contested issues which in legal terminology are known as controverted issues.  In my personal opinion any party involved in a contested divorce trial in California should request a statement of decision as the failure to request a statement of decision on all of the controverted issues in a case is almost always fatal to any possible appeal of the case in that the reviewing court is required to presume that every fact essential to the judgment was proved and found by the trial court if no statement of decision has been requested.

Any party appearing at the trial may request a statement of decision. If the trial is concluded within one calendar day, or in less than eight hours spread out over more than one day, the request must be made before the matter is submitted for decision. If the trial is longer than that, the request must be made within 10 days after the court announces a tentative decision. See Code of Civil Procedure § 632.

A trial shall be deemed to actually commence at the beginning of the opening statement or argument of any party or his or her counsel, or if there is no opening statement, then at the time of the administering of the oath or affirmation to the first witness, or the introduction of any evidence. See Code of Civil Procedure § 581(a)(6).

The 10-day period for making the request commences at the time the clerk mails the copy of the minute order or decision. See Hutchins v. Glanda (1990) 216 Cal. App. 3d 1529, 1531.

If counsel makes a timely request for the statement, the court’s failure to prepare the statement is reversible error. See Social Service Union, Local 535 v. County of Monterey (1989) 208 Cal. App. 3d 676, 681.

The party requesting a statement of decision should be sure to include all important controverted issues in their request as a California Court of Appeal has stated that the request for a statement of decision must specify the controverted issues for which a statement of decision is requested. The trial judge is not required to sift through a host of improper specifications in search of a few arguably proper ones. Although a party cannot be prevented from using the request as a way of arguing with the court rather than clarifying the grounds of its decision, a party who makes that choice is not entitled to rely on the resulting document to insulate the judgment from the presumption of correctness. See Yield Dynamics, Inc. v. TEA Systems Corp. (2007) 154 Cal. App. 4th 547, 558-559.

When there has been a request for a statement of decision, the statement of decision may be limited to only those issues specified in the request if less than all material issues are specified. See Harvard Investment Co. v. Gap Stores, Inc. (1984) 156 Cal. App. 3d 704, 709 n.3.

If an issue was not brought up at the trial, the reviewing court is under no obligation to address it. See Colony Ins. Co. v. Crusader Ins. Co. (2010) 188 Cal. App. 4th 743, 750-751.

A party waives any objection on appeal based on the trial court’s failure to file a written statement of decision when trial lasts less than one day and that party fails to make an oral request, and when language in that party’s points and authorities that were alleged to be a written request was not specific, but merely asked court to find in her favor. See Martinez v. County of Tulare (1987) 190 Cal. App. 3d 1430, 1434-1435.

If no statement of decision has been requested, the reviewing court is required to presume that every fact essential to the judgment was proved and found by the trial court. Review in these circumstances is limited to a determination as to whether there is any evidence, contradicted or uncontradicted, to support the judgment. See Agri-Systems, Inc. v. Foster Poultry Farms (2008) 168 Cal. App. 4th 1128, 1134-1135.

Requesting a statement of decision is an excellent way for any party involved in contested divorce proceedings in California to require that the Court give a detailed explanation of the basis and reasoning behind its decision.

Attorneys or parties who would like to view a portion of a sample 7 page request for statement of decision in a California divorce case that includes brief instructions as well as a sample proposal for content of statement decision and proof of service by mail sold by the author can see below.

The author of this blog post, Stan Burman, is an entrepreneur and freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995 and has created over 300 sample legal documents for California and Federal litigation.

Attorneys or parties in California that would like more information on a California divorce litigation document package containing over 45 sample documents including a sample request for a statement of decision can use the link shown below.

California divorce litigation document package

You can view portions of over 300 sample legal documents for California and Federal litigation at http://www.scribd.com/LegalDocsPro

*Do you want to use this article on your website, blog or e-zine? You can, as long as you include this blurb with it: “Stan Burman is the author of over 300 sample legal documents for California and Federal litigation and is the author of a free weekly legal newsletter. You can receive 10 free gifts just for subscribing. Just visit http://freeweeklylegalnewsletter.gr8.com/ for more information.

Follow the author on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/LegalDocsPro

View sample legal document packages for sale by going to http://www.legaldocspro.com/downloads.aspx

DISCLAIMER:

Please note that the author of this blog post, Stan Burman is NOT an attorney and as such is unable to provide any specific legal advice. The author is NOT engaged in providing any legal, financial, or other professional services, and any information contained in this blog post is NOT intended to constitute legal advice.

The materials and information contained in this blog post have been prepared by Stan Burman for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. Transmission of the information contained in this blog post is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any business relationship between the author and any readers. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.

 

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