After a Family Law Hearing on Custody, Support or Some Other Issue How Does A Party Make an Order?
I am often asked about Court Orders after a judge has made a decision in a family law hearing over a disputed issue. For example issues such as child custody, child support, spousal support, or control of property are often disputed and the parties go to court for a hearing after which the court makes a decision.
What is a minute order? The court clerk will prepare a minute order. A minute order is a summary of what the judge stated in court. It is prepared by the court clerk. Each party should obtain a copy of the minute order unless the court clerk gives the parties a written order after hearing.
Whether the parties receive a minute order or a written order after hearing each party should review the document they receive for accuracy.
What do I mean by accuracy? I mean review it to determine if the order states what the party understands the judge to have said. To be clear a minute order or written order can be accurate and NOT in agreement with what you, the party, wanted. Accuracy means the paper says the same thing the judge said in court.
What do I do if the minute order is inaccurate? Sometimes minute orders are wrong. When the order is inaccurate it often is inaccurate in the details. For example, the minute order may state one spouse receives spousal support, which is correct, but it states the wrong amount, or the minute order gets a detail of the parenting schedule wrong.
What to do?
Step 1: I suggest you look at California Superior Court Judicial Council form FL-340 ( type judicial council form FL-340 into your browser). The form contains check boxes for child custody, child support, spousal support, property orders, attorney fees and other orders.
On the FL-340 check each box from the list above for the issues the court decided. For example if the court issued custody orders and child support orders but not spousal support orders then check custody and child support.
If the court issued orders that are not related to child custody, child support, spousal support, property orders, or attorney fees then check other orders.
Step 2: Next for each order you need to add a form. While you can use the ones identified they might be too complicated for a self represented party. Instead, you can use judicial council form MC-025 (which is called attachment to judicial council form). So for example you could use a MC-025 to address the child custody orders by checking child custody on the FL-340 and checking other. Then, file out a MC-025. Put “attachment to FL-340 section 2, Then, put in the order for child custody as set forth in the transcript by writing the order on the MC-025.
Prepare a MC-025 for each section of the FL-340 you have checked: i.e. child custody, child support, spousal support, property orders, attorney fees and other orders.
With respect to other orders, if the court made order which you believe don’t fits into the categories above, you would check other orders and describe them in a MC-025 other orders.
Step 3: Attach all the documents together, and sign where indicated and make four copies. Staple each copy separately.
Step 4:Then, fill out a FL-335 proof of service. Have someone over 18 who is not your child or a party to the action sign the proof of service. Make four copies.
Step 5: Send 2 copies of all the documents to the adverse party (all documents means the FL-340 with all the MC-025s attached and a copy of the FL-335) with a letter requesting that they review the order and communicate to you if they disagree. Ask them to sign the FL-340 if they agree. (I suggest you include a self addressed stamped envelope in the mailing to the other party).
Wait for 15 days ( I suggest you call the other party to confirm receipt and discuss). If the adverse party doesn’t respond, or if they send you back a signed FL-340 you to then do a final step.
Step 6: Go to the court and file the FL-340 (with all the MC-025s attached) and the FL-335 proof of service with court. You will need to provide the court with two copies of the documents, The clerk with keep one copy and give you back a court stamped (received but not filed) copy). Give the court a self-addressed stamped envelope. Eventually the Judge will look at your order and sign it and an official court stamped copy (called a conformed copy) will be sent back to you.
After you do this your FL-340 will be the official order of the court. It will supplant the minute order. So if the court made a ruling that’s not addressed in the minute order but is addressed in the transcript and is addressed in your FL-340, the FL-340 will control.
In the future, if you have to go back to court, the court will use the FL-340 as its order.
What if the opposing party does communicate with me and disagrees with my proposed order?
I suggest that you contact the clerk for the department in which your hearing was held and ask to purchase the transcript of the hearing. There is not always a transcript to be had. In November the Family Law courts in Los Angeles stopped having court reporters (the employees who write everything said down) in all the family law hearings. However, if you can purchase it, the transcript is likely to be very accurate. Using the transcript you may be able to agree on the actual order and the adverse party may agree with your FL-340. If there is still a dispute and the transcript supports you, then send in the FL-340 which is accurate and supported by the transcript as outlined above.