New Code Saves Litigants Time and Money on Post-judgment Issues

Have you ever needed to go back to court to modify your judgment or orders based upon new information? Perhaps you discovered that the bank account you divided actually had more money in it than previously disclosed. Or maybe, your ex has changed jobs and support should be modified. So you send out discovery to collect evidence supporting your claim – only to receive an objection! This then required filing a motion with the court to reopen discovery adding to litigation. Fortunately, this new code allows litigants to bypass this type of motion.

Family Code 218

The State of California has recently put into effect a new rule that greatly benefits family law litigants. This new rule facilitates the discovery process in post-judgment issues saving both time and money.

It is no longer necessary to stipulate or file a motion to reopen discovery post-judgment. Pursuant to AB 2586/Family Code section 218, formal discovery will automatically reopen regarding the issues raised in the post-judgment pleadings. Previously, individuals were limited by Code of Civil Procedure section 2024.050 and Family Code section 3664 and were only able to request a limited amount of discovery (i.e. Income and Expense Declarations and tax returns) post-judgment if a request for support was already pending. If additional discovery was necessary, both sides would either (1) have to agree [stipulate] or (2) the requesting party would have to file a separation motion to reopen discovery and indicate to the court why it is necessary. This limiting statute made post-judgment modifications a bit more difficult. Fortunately, this new code is alleviating the necessity of additional litigation, both keeping costs down for litigants and making post-judgment modifications easier.

Family Code section 218 specifically states: “With respect to the ability to conduct formal discovery in family law proceedings, when a request for order or other motion is filed and served after entry of judgment, discovery shall automatically reopen as to the issues raised in the postjudgment pleadings currently before the court. The date initially set for trial of the action specified in subdivision (a) of Section 2024.020 of the Code of Civil Procedure shall mean the date the postjudgment proceeding is set for hearing on the motion or any continuance thereof, or evidentiary trial, whichever is later.”

This code became effective January 1, 2015, and will greatly affect post-judgment issues filed thereafter.

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