Why and When You Need To Request A Statement of Decision
The statement of decision means that the family law judge has to state, on the record, or in a written opinion, why it ruled the way it did.
California Code of Civil Procedure section 632 governs statements of decision.California Code of Civil Procedure section 632 governs statements of decision. Family law cases involving temporary orders may require an evidentiary hearing or a 'mini-trial', pursuant to Family Code section 217.
Family Code Section 217 requires family court judges and commissioners, upon request, to hold hearings with live testimony unless the parties stipulate otherwise, or unless the court has justification to deny the request.
The statement of decision means that the family law judge has to state, on the record, or in a written opinion, why it ruled the way it did. The Court might schedule a date for the statement to be read into the record of the court's findings and its conclusions - meaning the judge has to explain why they ruled the way that they did.
Do I need a statement of decision?Statements of decision for a 217 hearing on Request for Order (or bifurcated trial on a preliminary issue, or full trial) are critical if you think you might have to appeal the court's decision. If you do not ask, you waive your right. So if you think things are not going your way - but you are actually right - ask for the statement of decision before the court issues its ruling.
If your hearing / trial is heard in one calendar day or less (or less than eight hours if heard over several days), a request for a statement of decision must be made before the court issues its ruling - before the matter is submitted for decision or the court makes its decision on the record.
The procedures for statements of decision are different than statutes that require the court to state their findings on the record for certain matters (e.g. domestic violence restraining orders require findings on the record.)
If it looks like you are going to lose, ask for the statement of decision before it is too late. You will need that statement of decision on appeal.