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Lawrence D. Gorin
Lawrence D. Gorin, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 1506
Experience:  30+ years family law experience. QDROs, UIFSA, UCCJEA expertise.
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Paternity Question from San Bernardino, Ca. My son filed a ...

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Paternity Question from San Bernardino, Ca. My son filed a petition to establish parental relationship, custody, visitation, and child support in June 2006, and is self represented. He got a judgment on November 2, 2007, making him the custodial parent, child support, amending the birth certificate to add his name and changing the last name of my grandson to his. The mother of my grandson was also ordered to repay some of the child support that she was paid. Her attorney was ordered to prepare the judgment, but didnt do so until February 20, 2008. When he got it a week later, he contacted the attorney immediately because it didnt include all the issues that the judge ruled on, but he never called back. We ordered the transcript, (minute orders were too vague) and prepared a judgment packet (3 copies). My question is, do we have to submit it to her attorney for approval as to form and content, or can we just file it because they took too long to prepare the judgment?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Lawrence D. Gorin replied 6 years ago.
YOUR QUESTION:
Paternity Question from San Bernardino, Ca. My son filed a petition to establish parental relationship, custody, visitation, and child support in June 2006, and is self represented. He won the case on November 2, 2007. The mother of my grandson had a lawyer and her attorney was ordered to prepare the judgment, but didnt do so until February 20, 2008. When my son (still not being represented by a lawyer hired to watch out for his legal rights) got it a week later, he contacted the attorney immediately because it didnt include all the issues that the judge ruled on, but the attorney never called back. We ordered the transcript, (minute orders were too vague) and prepared a judgment packet (3 copies).
My question is: Do we have to submit it to her attorney for approval as to form and content, or can we just file it because they took too long to prepare the judgment?

ANSWER:
YES, you have to submit it to her attorney before submitting it to the judge. (This is required in order to give the opposing party’s attorney an opportunity to object to the form of the proposed judgment document, which is slightly different than saying the judgment needs the opposing party’s “approval.”)

Now, a few words to criticism:
First mistake, of course, was your son being “self-represented.” Kinda being a “self-surgeon.” The operation usually does not go as well as if a surgeon had been involved. In hindsight, again using medical analogy, a ounce of prevention (hiring a lawyer to begin with) would have been worth a pound of cure (all the trouble you are now having, especially if you continue trying to do this on your own). BUT..... it is still not too late: BEST ADVICE: Hire a lawyer now to assist you in getting this case finally AND PROPERLY resolved. Yes, it will cost some money, but at least it will get done (finally) and get done right.

Second mistake was having mother’s attorney prepare the judgment for the judge’s signature. Court ordered mother’s attorney to do this because this is something attorneys are trained to do, mother’s attorney was the only attorney in the case. Had your son had a lawyer, your son’s attorney would have been the one instructed to prepare the judgment document, since your son was the prevailing party in the case. And you son’s attorney would have prepared the judgment document so as to be most favorable to his client ( you son), not to the other party. But when mother’s attorney is ordered to the prepare the judgment document, he does so for the benefit of HIS client (the mother), and has not obligation to look out for the rights of the other party (your son). (If my client prevails in a case I NEVER allow the losing party’s attorney to prepare the judgment document. After all, for whose benefit is the judgment document being prepared?)

So you’ve learned a bit of a lesson here. Go get an attorney now and get the job done.

Now......Having sufficiently bawled you out for your exercise of poor judgment, let me try to explain the procedure....

The judgment document that is now prepared (hopefully by a lawyer hired by your son, whose professional obligation is to look for your son’s legal interests (and not those of the other party) must be submitted to the mother’s attorney prior to its being submitted to the judge. Check the Rules of Court for San Bernardino Superior Court to learn of the proper procedure. (Of course, a lawyer would not have to do this ‘cause a lawyer would already KNOW the rules of procedure.)

Usually, you have to wait a week or 10 days after serving a copy of the “proposed form of judgment” to the opposing attorney before submitting it to the court. This gives the opposing attorney an opportunity to object to the form of judgment that your lawyer has drafted. (The “content” is not subject to objection, since the substantive content of the judge’s decision is no longer subject to objection. That’s what the trial resolved. Now all we are talking about it “form,” not content or substance.)

Anyway, if there are objections to the form of the proposed form of judgment, the lawyers will usually be able to work out the bugs and agree on the wording to be used, etc. And then the “proposed form of judgment” is submitted to the judge. In the event agreement as to the form of the document is not reached, the situation will be resolved as provided in the court rules (which may vary from county to county).

When I do it, I usually include a cover letter to the opposing party’s attorney saying something along the following lines:
“Dear XXXXX: Enclosed is the proposed form of Judgment that I have drafted in conformance with Judge Smith’s ruling as announced at the conclusion of the hearing held on March 15. Let me know within the next 10 days as to any objections as to form, or any errors or omissions. If I do not hear from you within that period of time, I will assume there are not objections and will submit the judgment document to Judge Smith (accompanied by a certificate, as required by court rule, certifying that I have sent you a copy of the proposed judgment at least 10 days prior to its being submitted to the court and that no objection as to form has been received). If the foregoing is not acceptable, I trust you will advise me immediate. Very truly yours,.....

And that’s how it’s done (or at least that’s how it SHOULD be done).

I hope this satisfactorily answers your question(s). Please so acknowledge by clicking “ACCEPT.” Your positive FEEDBACK would also be appreciated.
Thank You.
Lawrence D. Gorin, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 1506
Experience: 30+ years family law experience. QDROs, UIFSA, UCCJEA expertise.
Lawrence D. Gorin and other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Staying with your "medical analogy", a doctor with poor bedside manner, (the condescending tone of your reply) may inadvertently discourage patients from seeking medical (legal) advice when they should.

I'm sure your meant well, you just came off looking like the legal version of "House". (A TV show character who's ill-mannered contemptuous rude behavior towards his patients and colleagues is over looked because he is so adept at his job.)

Unfortunately, your "bawling out" did not provide me with any new or useful information. Nevertheless, I did noticed that you have provided information to the SPARC website, and because I have used the resources available there, (time tracker EXTREMLY helpful) I have no problem "accepting" your answer.

Expert:  Lawrence D. Gorin replied 6 years ago.

Please accept my sincere apologies.
In no way did I intend to be rude or condescending, and I very much regret that the message was perceived in that light.

After 30+ years of doing what I call “clean-up work” (straightening out and resolving the legal problems that people have created for themselves by not using a lawyer to begin with), my frustration sometimes gets the better of me. And although not intended, that frustration crept into the tone of my response to your inquiry. Again, my apologies.

The “bawling out” (a rather poor choice of words for me to have used) was intended only as a bit a legal advice that might provide some useful future guidance. But in hindsight (always being 20-20), it sure did not come off that way. And as you have correctly pointed out, it was not asked for, not called for, and not necessary to the answer and information you were seeking. I thank you for bringing it to my attention, as it will heighten my sensitivity and thought processes in the future when responding to similar situations.

Your criticism is valid and accepted as constructive. And I hope you will appreciate and accept the sincerity of my apology.

I wish you and your son well and hope your legal problemd are quickly and easily resolved.

Respectfully,
Lawrence D. Gorin

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