“Can My Family Law Judgment Be Set Aside for Fraud?”

Normally, a judgment which is agreed to (stipulated) or issued by a judge cannot be overturned. Judgments are meant to be final, and if both parties participated in the process, either through an agreement or a trial, they will not be set aside and the case restarted or reconsidered without good cause. In essence, you can get relief within a year of the judgement or discovery of certain conditions, which are laid out in Family Law Code Section 2122. Some of the grounds are actual fraud, perjury, duress, mental incapacity, mistake, and failure to disclose. The grounds will have to be proven and fit into one of the categories just mentioned.

Here is the full text of the statute:

“The grounds and time limits for a motion to set aside a judgment, or any part or parts thereof, are governed by this section and shall be one of the following:

(a) Actual fraud where the defrauded party was kept in ignorance or in some other manner was fraudulently prevented from fully participating in the proceeding.  An action or motion based on fraud shall be brought within one year after the date on which the complaining party either did discover, or should have discovered, the fraud.
(b) Perjury.  An action or motion based on perjury in the preliminary or final declaration of disclosure, the waiver of the final declaration of disclosure, or in the current income and expense statement shall be brought within one year after the date on which the complaining party either did discover, or should have discovered, the perjury.
(c) Duress.  An action or motion based upon duress shall be brought within two years after the date of entry of judgment.
(d) Mental incapacity.  An action or motion based on mental incapacity shall be brought within two years after the date of entry of judgment.
(e) As to stipulated or uncontested judgments or that part of a judgment stipulated to by the parties, mistake, either mutual or unilateral, whether mistake of law or mistake of fact.  An action or motion based on mistake shall be brought within one year after the date of entry of judgment.
(f) Failure to comply with the disclosure requirements of Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 2100).  An action or motion based on failure to comply with the disclosure requirements shall be brought within one year after the date on which the complaining party either discovered, or should have discovered, the failure to comply.”

Probably the most common of these situations is failure to disclose assets. In any divorce case, BOTH parties have a duty to fully disclose all assets and debts, both community property and separate property. This allows the court to rule on all assets and debts. If something is not disclosed, the entire settlement or judgment can be compromised. Sometimes the failure to disclose reaches the level of actual fraud.

The take-aways from this statute are simple: If you’re disclosing assets and debts, do it thorough. If your ex has hidden or deceived you about assets and you have a judgment, you need to file for relief from the court immediately after you discover the hidden asset or the deception.

DISCLAIMER: All legal principles quoted are valid as of the date of writing in the State of California. However, you should NEVER base your actions on a legal article, blog, or internet story, as facts in real life are complicated. You should have your case evaluated by an attorney experienced in the area of law needed for your case. In addition, there are often exceptions and potential changes to results that occur due to facts that you may think are trivial or unimportant. This article should not be taken in any way as legal advice on your specific legal matter.

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