Currently the California court system is facing a dilemma. Once an appeal has been filed and an “opinion” has been issued the trial court is generally supposed to accept the “opinion” as law. That becomes a problem when the “opinion” actually conflicts with the law. Take for example a family law appeal where the Fourth District Division Two opined that a statement of decision was a “JUDGMENT” and that there was a “POST-JUDGMENT” modification.
Strangely enough the trial court record and the appeal court record reflect a lack of “A” judgment. None has been entered in the case as a custody judgment, yet it is characterized by the Court of Appeal as one. A statement of decision is not a judgment.
A judgment in family law becomes formal when it is signed by a Judge and entered in the court record as such. The CA judicial council was even so kind as to make MANDATORY judgment forms available. This form specifies that this is the mandatory judgment form to be used by the court in family law proceedings http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/fl250.pdf
California rules of court Rule 3.1590 (l) governs the requirements for signature and filing a judgment during the statement of decision process as follows: “If a written judgment is required, the court must sign and file the judgment within 50 days after the announcement or service of the tentative decision, whichever is later, or, if a hearing was held under (k), within 10 days after the hearing. The judgment constitutes the decision on which judgment is to be entered under Code of Civil Procedure section 664.”