What Does Entry of Judgment in a Divorce in California Mean?

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

What Does Entry of Judgment in a Divorce in California Mean?

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

An entry of judgment in a divorce in California is the final judgment delivered and signed by the judge presiding over your divorce proceedings. The divorce process in California can take months, or even years, and may involve complicated court proceedings. For example, a couple with no children might have a less complex case whereas a couple with significant assets and/or debts could undergo a more lengthy divorce process.

Man with glasses sitting on a couch reading paperwork

It may seem like an endless process involving countless forms, rules, and laws. Entry of judgment by the court in your divorce case tells you that your divorce is final. Your divorce is not official until the court enters judgment.

The Judgment

After the Judge has heard your case, they will set out the terms of your divorce in a judgment of dissolution of marriage. The judgment will contain all the details of the divorce, including terms relating to the division of assets, division of debts, child support, child custody, and visitation. Once the judge signs it, the divorce becomes effective.

The court clerk will enter the judgment into the court record and officially stamp the documents. While the clerk still has to go through this process, the entry of judgment finalizes the divorce on the date the judge actually signed it, regardless of when the court clerk gets around to stamping the document.

Notice of Entry of Judgment

A copy of the notice of entry of judgment will then be mailed to both spouses notifying them that the divorce is final. Therefore, you don't need to serve a copy on your spouse. Pay close attention to the date you receive this notice, as this will determine both your and your spouse's time to appeal the judgment.

Make sure to keep a copy for your records as this document serves as your proof that your divorce is final. Once the divorce is finalized and the court has entered the judgment, your single status is restored and you are free to remarry.

What Happens Next

You or your spouse may be unhappy with the judgment and want to appeal. A party typically has 60 days to appeal after they have received the notice of entry of judgment, or 180 days to appeal after the judgment was issued if the party didn't receive the notice from the court. A spouse will waive the right to appeal if they fail to file a timely notice of appeal.

Note that family court appeals can be difficult to win, as an appellate court will give a lot of weight to the trial court judge's decision, taking into account the trial judge's view and outlook on the facts of your case with regard to the applicable law.

You can appeal a divorce judgment by filing a notice of appeal with the clerk of the court that entered your judgment. You will also need to pay a filing fee to appeal. If you are unsure of how to move forward, you can consult with a family law attorney who can assist you in filing an appeal.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.

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