6. NULLITY, DISSOLUTION, AND LEGAL SEPARATION
1. General Provisions
10. Relief from Judgment
Family Code,sections 2120-2129
The Legislature finds and declares the following:
(a) The State of California has a strong policy of
ensuring the division of community and quasi-community
property in the dissolution of a marriage as set forth
in Division 7 (commencing with Section
2500), and of providing for fair and sufficient
child and spousal support awards. These policy goals
can only be implemented with full disclosure of community,
quasi-community, and separate assets, liabilities,
income, and expenses, as provided in Chapter 9 (commencing
with Section 2100),
and decisions freely and knowingly made.
(b) It occasionally happens that the division of property
or the award of support, whether made as a result
of agreement or trial, is inequitable when made due
to the nondisclosure or other misconduct of one of
(c) The public policy of assuring finality of judgments
must be balanced against the public interest in ensuring
proper division of marital property, in ensuring sufficient
support awards, and in deterring misconduct.
(d) The law governing the circumstances under which
a judgment can be set aside, after the time for relief
473 of the Code of Civil Procedure has passed,
has been the subject of considerable confusion which
has led to increased litigation and unpredictable
and inconsistent decisions at the trial and appellate
(a) In proceedings for dissolution of marriage, for
nullity of marriage, or for legal separation of the
parties, the court may, on any terms that may be just,
relieve a spouse from a judgment, or any part or parts
thereof, adjudicating support or division of property,
after the six-month time limit of
473 of the Code of Civil Procedure has run, based
on the grounds, and within the time limits, provided
in this chapter.
(b) In all proceedings under this chapter, before
granting relief, the court shall find that the facts
alleged as the grounds for relief materially
affected the original outcome and that the
moving party would materially benefit
from the granting of the relief.
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:
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.
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.
Duress. An action or motion based
upon duress shall be brought within two years
after the date of entry of judgment.
Mental incapacity. An action or motion
based on mental incapacity shall be brought within
two years after the date of entry
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.
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.
Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter,
or any other law, a judgment may not be set aside
simply because the court finds that it was inequitable
when made, nor simply because subsequent circumstances
caused the division of assets or liabilities to become
inequitable, or the support to become inadequate.
The negligence of an attorney shall not be imputed
to a client to bar an order setting aside a judgment,
unless the court finds that the client knew, or should
have known, of the attorney's negligence and unreasonably
failed to protect himself or herself.
When ruling on an action or motion to set aside a
judgment, the court shall set aside only those provisions
materially affected by the circumstances leading to
the court's decision to grant relief. However, the
court has discretion to set aside the entire judgment,
if necessary, for equitable considerations.
As to assets or liabilities for which a judgment or
part of a judgment is set aside, the date of valuation
shall be subject to equitable considerations. The
court shall equally divide the asset or liability,
unless the court finds upon good cause shown that
the interests of justice require an unequal division.
As to actions or motions filed under this chapter,
if a timely request is made, the court shall render
a statement of decision where the court has resolved
controverted factual evidence.
(a) Nothing in this chapter prohibits a party from
seeking relief under Section
(b) Nothing in this chapter changes existing law with
respect to contract remedies where the contract has
not been merged or incorporated into a judgment.
(c) Nothing in this chapter is intended to restrict
a family law court from acting as a court of equity.
(d) Nothing in this chapter is intended to limit existing
law with respect to the modification or enforcement
of support orders.
(e) Nothing in this chapter affects the rights of
a bona fide lessee, purchaser, or encumbrancer for
value of real property.
This chapter applies to judgments entered on or after
January 1, 1993.
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