GMSR prevails in validating delayed entry “Further Judgment” in marital dissolution case

Reyes v. Reyes (2015) 2015 Cal.App. Unpub. LEXIS 8122 (Calfornia Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division One) [unpublished]. In this marital dissolution proceeding, the parties stipulated to having a temporary judge (a retired judge appointed under Cal. Const., art. VI, § 21) issue a judgment composed of two documents: A “Judgment” of dissolution and a simultaneously-executed “Further Judgment” detailing the resolution of property and support issues. The Judgment was entered immediately, and it provided that the Further Judgment not be entered unless and until a dispute arose and that any dispute regarding the Further Judgment would be resolved by the retired judge who issued it. The Further Judgment specified that spousal support was not modifiable by anyone for any reason and that any modification was forever waived. Three years later, after the retired judge’s appointment had expired, the wife sought support modification. She theorized that she was free to ignore the Further Judgment because it had not yet been entered. The trial court then entered the Further Judgment and refused the wife’s attempt to set it aside. On appeal, GMSR’s client, the husband, prevailed. The Court of Appeal rejected the wife’s “first in time, first in right” argument that her motion to modify support prevented the entry of the Further Judgment: Because the retired judge had rendered the Further Judgment while he still was empowered to act, it was valid, and the clerk’s entry of it was simply ministerial.

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