How to Request a Statement of Decision

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A statement of decision is a legal document, used in California, stating the factual and legal explanation for the court’s decision on a court case when controversies in the case arise. During a trial, the court announces a tentative decision, which is put into the form of a written statement. All parties at the trial are entitled to receive a copy of this decision, which is tentative and may change. If objections to the decision arise, the court reviews it and prepares a statement of decision. Statements of decision are used when one party feels the court has used incorrect factual information in making the judgment.

Request the tentative decision. All parties at the trial are entitled to a copy of the tentative decision. With a nonjury trial, after 10 days, the tentative decision becomes a statement of decision if there are no objections to it. If the trial lasts more than one day, parties at the trial must request a statement of decision before the matter is submitted for receiving a decision.

Address issues. When requesting a statement of decision, issues the party wants to address must be identified. Statements of decision are used in two ways. They either protect the judgment order of the court or are used to reveal errors.

Propose additional issues. Either party in the trial may propose that additional issues be placed in the statement of decision. A statement of decision typically only addresses issues that one party requests to be discussed. After a statement is requested, the court appoints one counsel to prepare the statement.

Review the statement of decision. After this statement is prepared, the court must file and serve the statement within 15 days after the request was made. If any objections to the statement are found, each party has 15 days from the date it was filed to object. Objections can be incorrect factual findings by the court or incorrect interpretations of the law. The court reviews all objections and then makes its final decision. Sometimes the court does this through another trial, but sometimes the court does it on its own.