Thurman W. Arnold, III

Marriage of Boblitt Reversed by Legislative Action - Welcome to New Family Code Section 218

I've spoken with a number of you by email about the chilling effect that Marriage of Boblitt had on post-judgment discovery, and am pleased to announce that Jerry Brown has signed into emergency law new Family Code section 218, effective January 1, 2015. It states as follows:

"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."

Please note that another rarely recognized effect of this statute is to extend the discovery cut-off that applies to civil actions generally, so that upon a trial continuance for instance your right to seek discovery automatically reopens. I continue to see lawyers filing motions to extend the cut-off, thinking that the old rules still apply. They no longer do in family law now! Spread the word!

Oh boy, I can foresee the attorney fee sparks flying over what discovery does and does not relate "to the issues raised in the postjudgment pleadings...."

I recommend that anyone contemplating filing a mega-RFO post-judgment hold off until this new law takes effect.

BTW, I've received an email suggestion that this statute became effective when it was adopted, on or about 7/24/14. That is not the case - it doesn't become effective until 2015.