In San Diego, state law governs all civil law, including family law. In civil court, a party to a dispute might file a motion of some sort or another. A motion is a request for the court to do something (a motion to dismiss, for example, is a request that the court dismiss the case). 

The court will respond to a motion with an order either approving or denying the motion. The court’s response to the motion is compulsory. A “minute order” is simply the name given to the court’s answer to a motion from either party. It is not a final decision. It only covers a specific issue within the case, such as who has custody of your children until your divorce is final. 

Does the Judge Need To Sign a Minute Order?

No, the judge does not need to sign a minute order for it to be valid. This is different from most court orders. Most of the time, the party requesting a court order drafts the actual text of the order, and the order is invalid until the judge signs it. By contrast, it is the court that drafts a minute order. Since the court itself drafted the order, it doesn’t need a judge’s signature to be valid. 

Getting a Copy of a Minute Order

You certainly wouldn’t want to risk a contempt of court charge just because you misheard the judge’s minute order. Consequently, it is always best to secure a written copy of any minute order the judge issues. If you are a party to the proceedings, you have a right to a copy of every minute order the court issues relating to your case. 

If you simply want to make sure you know what it says, you can view it online within a few days after your court date. You can also request a paper copy from the court clerk, although it is best to wait a few days before you make this request.

Challenging a Minute Order

In the hustle and bustle of a courtroom proceeding, the clerk might have mistranscribed the minute order. In fact, this happens quite frequently. This can present a problem if you comply with the order as you read it, but the judge holds you to the order as they spoke it. 

Make sure to check all minute orders to confirm they are accurate. If you need to have the court modify the written version of a minute order, you can file a motion asking the court to do exactly that. There is probably an audio record of the proceedings, and the court can check the written version against the audio record for accuracy. However, under the California Rules of Court, audio records are typically erased after a certain number of days.

What Happens If You Violate a Minute Order?

A minute order is like any other court order. You must comply with it; otherwise, you will be held in contempt of court. Contempt of court is a criminal charge, and you could go to jail for it. 

You won’t necessarily face contempt of court charges for an unintentional or minor violation of a court order, although you might. If you hire an attorney to represent you, your lawyer can help ensure this doesn’t happen.

Representing Yourself in Family Court Is Not Advised

You have a legal right to represent yourself in family court, including family court. Nevertheless, almost any judge or lawyer will tell you it is a bad idea. Even if you don’t hire a lawyer, the court might appoint a “minor’s counsel” to represent your child’s interests. Contact a family law attorney as early in your case as you can.

Contact Our Family Law Firm in San Diego, CA

Contact our experienced San Diego family law lawyers at San Diego Divorce Lawyers, APC today for legal assistance. Contact our San Diego office at (619) 866-3756 to schedule a free consultation.

San Diego Divorce Lawyers, APC
2851 Camino del Rio S #430
San Diego, CA 92108