5 Reasons Your California Divorce Judgment May Have Been Rejected

You spent hours poring over all the forms necessary to finalize your California divorce. You researched online, browsed DIY divorce literature, and maybe even met with a lawyer once or twice.

Your spouse signed and had their signature notarized. (For many, this is a huge feat in and of itself.) Then, you gathered your self-addressed stamped envelopes, made copies of your judgment, and took time out of your busy day to drive across town to the courthouse, stand in line, and submit your paperwork.

A few days, weeks, or months later, you received an envelope from the court! Inside, you did not find the judgment you expected. Instead, you found a letter from the court "rejecting your judgment." Ugh! Sound familiar?

You're not alone. We see hundreds of people each year who need help completing their divorce. Here are five of the top reasons why divorce judgments in California are rejected and what to do if it happens to you.

No Proof of Service

In your divorce process, both a summons and a petition must be filed and served. A Proof of Service must also be completed and filed in your matter If this important document was not filed – or was improperly filed – the court will reject your case.

The best option for most people is to have someone 18 or older (who is unrelated to the action) serve the petition and summons personally by mail. Then, have your spouse sign a Notice and Acknowledgement of Receipt (NAOR) and file FL-115

If a (NAOR) was signed, file that, too.

Not using an optional form

The forms may say "optional," but unless you have a Stipulated Judgment or Marital Settlement Agreement that's absolutely perfect, you must complete these forms. The most important ones are FL-345, FL-341, FL-342, and FL-343.

No copies and postage

You must bring with you two copies of your proposed judgment (one duplicate, plus the original), two large self-addressed stamped envelopes, and enough postage for each envelope. Address one envelope to the petitioner and one to the respondent.

Judgment exceeds requests in the petition

If your judgment is by default (the other party did not file a response, and you are not submitting a written agreement to the court with your judgment), you may not request an "order" that exceeds the request you made in your petition. But sometimes, people accidentally do it anyway.

For example, let's say you checked the box in your petition indicating you want the court to reserve jurisdiction over the issue of spousal support. (In other words, you want to give the court the ability to order support at a later date.) But then, you also checked a box in your judgment for termination of support. (In other words, the court will never have the ability to order support.)

Your judgment will likely be rejected due to this conflicting information.

Not enough information

If you ask the court for orders regarding child support or spousal support, you must explain the basis for the number you chose, even if you and your spouse already agree. What's more, even if you're not requesting support orders, you must explain to the court why not. If not enough information is provided, the judgment will be rejected.

Here’s an example scenario: Let’s say you earn $12,000 per month, and your soon-to-be ex-spouse earns $2,000 per month. The court will want to know why you are not paying spousal support. Now, you may have a perfectly good reason for it. Maybe the marriage was brief. Maybe your spouse has rich parents who foot all their bills. Maybe your spouse inherited a million dollars. Regardless, at the risk of TMI, tell the story so there is no doubt in the court’s mind about the legitimacy of your judgment.

Free resources  

A rejected judgment piles more time onto your wait for the final divorce decree. You likely don’t want that. Avoid missing an important step with this free resource, a checklist that can help you stay organized and avoid missing an important step in your process. You can also use our free California Divorce Checklist for assistance.

Yet another way to avoid the frustration of receiving a rejected judgment is to sign up for a flat-rate legal advice session with one of our experts at Hello Divorce.

VIDEO: Why your California divorce judgment might be rejected
Founder, CEO & Certified Family Law Specialist
Mediation, Divorce Strategy, Divorce Insights, Legal Insights
After over a decade of experience as a Certified Family Law Specialist, Mediator and law firm owner, Erin was fed up with the inefficient and adversarial “divorce corp” industry and set out to transform how consumers navigate divorce - starting with the legal process. By automating the court bureaucracy and integrating expert support along the way, Hello Divorce levels the playing field between spouses so that they can sort things out fairly and avoid missteps. Her access to justice work has been recognized by the legal industry and beyond, with awards and recognition from the likes of Women Founders Network, TechCrunch, Vice, Forbes, American Bar Association and the Pro Bono Leadership award from Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Erin lives in California with her husband and two children, and is famously terrible at board games.