August 15, 2018

Family Law Tentative Ruling Announcements

Please note that the family court issues tentative ruling announcements on the court day prior to the scheduled hearing for specific types of motions. Tentative rulings are only provided on the Internet and posted in the clerk’s office lobby. Internet postings occur at 1:30pm daily at

Parties are not required to give notice of intent to appear to preserve the right to a hearing. The tentative ruling will not become final until the hearing. (Stan. Cnty. Local Rules, rule 7.05.1) However, as a courtesy to the Court, and other parties or counsel with matters on calendar, notice of intended appearance or non-appearance is encouraged and may be sent by e-mail to the following address: between the hours of 1:30 P.M. and 4:00 P.M. If you do not receive a confirmation e-mail from the clerk, you may call to speak directly with a Calendar Clerk at 209-530-3107.

Any party filing pleadings or documents on a tentative ruling matter within five (5) days of the hearing should provide a courtesy copy to the Courtroom Clerk and the Court’s Family Law Research Attorney by placing a copy in the drop box slot on the door of Room 223, Second Floor of the main Courthouse. Failure to do so may prevent the Court from consideration of such, may result in a continuance, and/or may be considered in the award of conduct-based fees and costs. (Stan. Cnty. Local Rules, rule 7.05.1(B).)

All parties and counsel are required to meet and confer in a good faith effort to resolve the dispute on any request, motion or hearing, with the exception of those involving domestic violence, and to exchange any documents upon which reliance will be made at the hearing. (Cal. Rules of Ct., rule 5.98; Stan. Cnty. Local Rules, rule 7.05.1(C).) Failure to do so may result in a continuance and may be considered in the award of conduct-based fees and costs, or both. If sufficient information regarding an adequate pre-hearing meet and confer effort is not provided in the moving and opposing papers, in the Court’s discretion, the matter may be placed at the end of the calendar and not called until the parties or counsel advise the Court that they have complied with their obligations and/or resolved the matter.

Date: August 15, 2018                                                                       

The following are the tentative ruling cases calendared before Judge Alan Cassidy in Department #11:


Petitioner’s Request for Order re Child Custody, etc.—DENIED, without prejudice.

Custody issues were previously mediated and are no longer at issue.  Regarding the remaining name change request, Petitioner failed to file proof of service as required.  (Cal. Rules of Ct., rule 5.94(b).)  Even assuming Respondent’s appearance at mediation waived service, the Court finds that consideration of any name change for the minor child is pre-mature given that there has been no service of the underlying petition and the operative custody order provides for Respondent’s sole physical custody.  Assuming Petitioner provides satisfactory evidence as directed at the pending in-court custody review hearing, and Respondent has no objection, the Court will entertain Petitioner’s name change request at that time.  Petitioner is advised that his compliance and cooperation with existing orders, and willingness to recognize and support the minor child, are among the factors that the Court may consider in determining whether a name change is in the best interest of the minor child. 


Third-Party’s Notice of Motion/Motion re Joinder—DENIED, without prejudice.

Third-Party has failed to file proof of service as required.  (Fam. Code  § 3104; Cal. Rules of Ct., rule 5.94(b).)  Both parties are entitled to notice and must be individually served.  The Court has previously awarded Petitioner sole legal and physical custody of the minor child in a presumptively non-modifiable order.  Consequently, unless Petitioner has no objection to child visitation by Third-Party, the Court may not order joinder, let alone any visitation, until Third-Party overcomes the legal presumption that Petitioner’s objection is in the best interest of the minor by clear and convincing evidence.  (Fam. Code § 3104; Cal. Rules of Court, rule 5.24(a)(1)(B); Local Rules, rule 7.71.1(B)(3); Marriage of Harris (2004) 34 Cal.4th 210, 222.)   Third-Party’s motion is silent both as to the loving nature of the bond between himself and the minor child, and as to the existence of any objection by Petitioner.  Third-Party remains free to either seek a continuance or to file a new motion asserting the proper grounds and factual showing for the visitation order that he seeks.

The Self-Help Center offers free help to people who are representing themselves in Court in a variety of legal matters.  Assistance is provided daily on a walk-in first-come, first-served basis.  Office Hours are Monday – Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to noon and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and Fridays 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.  Location:  800 11th Street, Room 220, Modesto, California.  

The following are the tentative ruling cases calendared before Judge Valli K. Israels in Department #13:


The following are the tentative ruling cases calendared before Judge Jack M. Jacobson in Department #14:

8009849 – FISHER V. FISHER

Respondent’s request for orders (RFO) re vacating default—APPEARANCE REQUIRED

Although a proof of service alleges petitioner’s counsel was served by mail with respondent’s RFO regarding vacating the default, petitioner’s counsel has been hired for a limited scope that does not appear to include responding to this RFO.  Reissuance will be required unless petitioner responds or waives the service defect.  (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 5.427(d)(2).)

On the merits, respondent’s request is timely (Code Civ. Proc., § 473, subd. (b)), and he is entitled to relief from default if he shows that default was entered due to “h[is] mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect.”  (Code Cv. Proc., § 473, subd. (b).)  The allegation that petitioner prepared and served a response t the petition but did not know he had to file the response with the court is sufficient to support an order vacating the default.  The court is inclined to enter such an order if proper service is demonstrated.   

The following are the tentative ruling cases calendared before Judge Kellee Westbrook in Department #25:


Respondent’s Request for Order re Bifurcation, etc.—GRANTED, and unopposed.

The Court finds that it has been more than six (6) months since Respondent’s appearance, that Respondent has served preliminary disclosures, and that there appear to be no retirement plans as to which joinder is required.  The Court further finds on the basis of Respondent’s declaration and Petitioner’s stated stipulation to the requested bifurcation and early termination of status that the marriage is not salvageable, that early status termination is favored and that no prejudice will inure to Petitioner provided appropriate protective conditions are included for Petitioner’s benefit.  (Fam. Code  § 2337; Cal. Rules of Ct., rule 5.390; Marriage of Fink (1976) 54 Cal.App.3d 357, 363-364; Gionis v. Superior Court (1988) 202 Cal.App.3d 786, 790; Hogoboom & King, Cal. Prac. Guide Family L., Ch. 11-D § 11:479-479.1.)  Accordingly, the parties and their respective counsel are ordered to meet and confer prior to the hearing in order to prepare a stipulated order for bifurcation and early termination of marital status, including the agreed upon protective conditions in the Judicial Council form attachment to the order.  (FL-340, FL-347; Cal. Rules of Ct., rule 5.98.)  The parties and their respective counsel shall also meet and confer as to preparation of the status-only judgment, including restoration of Petitioner’s maiden name, reserving all other issue for subsequent trial.  (Fam. Code §§ 2337(f), 2080; FL-180, FL-347.)  If the parties submit a satisfactory proposed order and proposed status-only judgment to the Court prior to the hearing, no appearances shall be required and the Court will confirm the tentative ruling and vacate the hearing on the basis of the parties’ stipulation.


Respondent’s Request for Order re Set Aside Default—APPEARANCE REQUIRED.

Respondent fails to demonstrate non-compliance with the required disclosure requirements prior to entry of default.  However, Respondent arguably asserts grounds for relief based on surprise, mistake of fact and/or excusable neglect based on the allegation that Petitioner led Respondent to believe his default would not be entered until after the scheduled Case Management Hearing on February 1, 2019—mistakenly referred to as a “settlement conference” by Respondent—and he therefore believed he was relieved of the obligation to file a response until after the hearing.  Petitioner’s Request to Enter Default refers to excusing disclosure attachments on the basis that “the issues subject to disposition by the court in this proceeding are the subject of a written agreement,” yet Petitioner has since not submitted any such agreement and is instead seeking judgment as a pure default.  As such, there appears to be a factual dispute that necessitates an evidentiary hearing.  Petitioner has not filed a Responsive Declaration and, in the absence of her appearance and testimony, the Court will resolve any doubts as to the motion in favor of the policy that cases be heard on their merits, rather than by default, as it must.  (Minick v. City of Petaluma (2016) 3 Cal.App.5th 15, 24 [policy favoring trial on merits prevails unless inexcusable neglect is clear]; Rappleyea v. Campbell (1994) 8 Cal.4th 975, 980 [orders denying relief more stringently reviewed than those granting relief]; Hogoboom & King, Cal. Prac. Guide Family L., Ch. 16-A, § 16:67-69.)