Would court legally accept copies of signed documents in our divorce? 2 Answers as of December 22, 2010

1. Would court accept my ex-wife's faxed signature on all agreement and other judgment packet forms which has her attorney's original signature, my original and my attorney's original? Or would court insist that her signature has to be notarized or need to be original? 2. If we file the final papers on or after January 5th, would the court still put in the marital end status date of January 2nd, 2011 since I served my ex-wife papers on the July 1st? Although everything is ready, my attorney wants to file after Jan 5th saying he is going to vacation from Dec 23rd. I insisted I can file myself since courts are open and he refuses. 3. How long does it take the court to enter the judgment that the marital status ended?

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Law Office of Joseph A. Katz
Law Office of Joseph A. Katz | Joseph A. Katz
Original signatures are always preferred by the Court. A notarized signature is better, but would still be an original, which you would have to obtain by mail. Maybe you could overnight documents to your ex-wife, and she could overnight them back to you. Some Courts might accept the faxed signatures, of faxed signatures with a notary's seal on them (even though it would be a faxed copy).

The Judgment is usually only final when the Court signs the Judgment documents, that is, you will be divorced on the date the Judge signs the Judgment. The Court can list a retroactive date for the date the marriage ended, as long as it is at least six months from the date the Respondent was served (assuming all other requirements are met), under certain circumstances (Calfornia Family Code section 2346(a)). However, the Court cannot backdate the Judgment under certain circumstances, as well (CFC 2346(d)).

"California Family Code section 2346:

(a)If the court determines that a judgment of dissolution of the marriage should be granted, but by mistake, negligence, or inadvertence, the judgment has not been signed, filed, and entered, the court may cause the judgment to be signed, dated, filed, and entered in the proceeding as of the date when the judgment could have been signed, dated, filed, and entered originally, if it appears to the satisfaction of the court that no appeal is to be taken in the proceeding or motion made for a new trial, to annul or set aside the judgment, or for relief under Chapter 8 (commencing with Section 469) of Title 6 of Part 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

(b)The court may act under subdivision (a) on its own motion or upon the motion of either party to the proceeding. In contested cases, the motion of a party shall be with notice to the other party.

(c)The court may cause the judgment to be entered nunc pro tunc as provided in this section, even though the judgment may have been previously entered, where through mistake, negligence, or inadvertence the judgment was not entered as soon as it could have been entered under the law if applied for.

(d)The court shall not cause a judgment to be entered nunc pro tunc as provided in this section as of a date before trial in the matter, before the date of an uncontested judgment hearing in the matter, or before the date of submission to the court of an application for judgment on affidavit pursuant to Section 2336. Upon the entry of the judgment, the parties have the same rights with regard to the dissolution of marriage becoming final on the date that it would have become final had the judgment been entered upon the date when it could have been originally entered."

You cannot predict with great accuracy how long it will take for a Judge to sign the Judgment. It varies with how busy the court is, how backlogged the paperwork is, staffing issues, etc. I have had Judgment documents back in as little as two weeks, and some have taken two months. Usually, I would expect the Court to turn the documents around in from three to five weeks.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/21/2010
Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
Yes, the court will accept a facsimile signature as an original. Generally, the court will not use a retroactive date (unless agreed to by all parties). The last question isn't possible for me to answer. Each court processes the Judgments in the order in which they are received. They must be reviewed by a staff attorney to make sure that they comply with local rules, then they go to the Judge for signature. The time to process the paperwork is contingent upon how many cases are in front of you.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/21/2010
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