To see Assembly Bill No. 2586 and the new post-judgment discovery statute,
FC 218, please
The Boblitt case was originally published in February 2014, and we now
already have a correction. This is one of the fastest corrections of a
previously unjust law that I have ever seen. This is your legislature
at work – along with the help of concerned legal organizations throughout
California. This case had to do with post-judgment modifications and post-trial
disputes. Unlike almost every other area of law, family law attorneys
represent clients in disputes that arise after a “final” ruling
has been issued. Despite their name, these final decisions are hardly
Post-judgment modification issues usually involve child custody and child
support, but they can be connected to delayed asset or debt divisions,
hidden asset problems and more.
What about post-judgment discovery?
Every lawyer knows that discovery ends 30 days before the trial. This is
true for most areas of the law, but what happens when
family law issues come up AFTER the trial is over? The Boblitt case not only discussed
the long history of the post-judgment discovery problem, but “solved”
the issue in a way that was eventually changed with the passing of the
new statute, FC 218. The pitfalls experienced by Ms. Boblitt eventually
provoked a change in the law. The problem is framed in this section of the case:
- “Linda Boblitt (wife) contends that the trial court violated her
right to due process because, less than a month before the post-judgment
evidentiary hearing, the court added an issue to those that were scheduled
to be heard, thereby effectively precluding her from conducting discovery
on the new issue because ‘discovery is cut-off 30 days before trial
In the same paragraph, the 3d District rejects Ms. Boblitt’s claims
- “We reject wife’s due process claim because in a marital dissolution
proceeding like this, once discovery closes before the initial date set,
no provision of law operates to automatically reopen it upon or in connection
with the filing for a post-judgment motion.
Outrageous! (But Legally Correct Under the Law)
The court added a financial issue sua sponte 15 days before the hearing
on the post-judgment motion, over the objection of the party. The party
was powerless to conduct discovery on that issue because the motion was
post-trial – and therefore, after the discovery window was cut off.
This led to an impossible conundrum. The wife would have had to file a
motion to re-open discovery, but she did not know about the issue until
the court added it. Her attorney objected, but it was shot down. She eventually
appealed, but lost. Having not been able to file a timely motion, the
wife was faced with the prospect of going to trial on an issue that she
could not be ready to litigate.
Groups Who Were Ready to Address the Legislature
Proposals from at least one respected state-wide family law organization
had been put in place in an attempt to add statutory language overturning
the Boblitt Catch-22. Luckily, family lawyers weren’t asked to face
this uphill battle for long. This unjust law was swiftly corrected.