De Novo Hearings in California family courts

A Second Chance: Understanding De Novo Hearings in California Family Courts

In California, parties disputing a court’s ruling in divorce or family law cases may seek a de novo hearing for a fresh review.  In California, understanding the de novo hearing process is vital for those who believe an initial court decision does not serve justice or the best interests of their family.

What is a De Novo Hearing?

The term “de novo” is Latin for “anew” or “from the beginning.” In legal terms, a de novo hearing gives one the opportunity to present their case again, fully afresh, to a new decision-maker. This hearing is particularly important because s it offers a chance to revisit decisions related to child custody, support, and other sensitive issues. It’s a legal avenue that ensures all voices are heard and all evidence is considered before reaching a final verdict.

Significance of De Novo Hearings in Family Law

De novo hearings are significant in family law for several reasons:

  • Fairness: They provide a mechanism to contest a ruling that one party believes is unjust or incorrect.
  • Thorough Review: The hearing allows the new judge to examine the facts and legal arguments without being influenced by the previous ruling.
  • New Perspective: It presents the case to a different judge who may have a different perspective or insight into the matter.

The Role of Minute Orders in Family Law

In the context of family law, minute orders are the court’s written record of the proceedings and the decisions made during a hearing. These orders are often preliminary and may address temporary measures before a final judgment is rendered. For example, a minute order may outline temporary child custody arrangements or spousal support while the case is ongoing.

Preceding De Novo Hearings with Minute Orders

Minute orders can play a significant role when it comes to de novo hearings:

  • Basis for Review: A party may request a de novo hearing based on the contents of a minute order if they believe the decision was made in error or without considering all relevant facts.
  • Evidence of Record: Minute orders provide a record of what transpired in the original hearing, which can be crucial for preparing for the de novo hearing.
  • Timing: Requests for de novo hearings must typically be made shortly after the minute order is issued, making it important for parties to act promptly if they wish to appeal a decision.

Understanding Family Code 271

California Family Code 271 plays a role in how courts handle family law cases, including those that may involve de novo hearings. This statute addresses the awarding of attorney’s fees and costs based on a party’s conduct during litigation. It aims to encourage cooperation between parties and attorneys to settle their disputes rather than litigate them, which is an important consideration in the collaborative law process. If a party is found to have unreasonably increased the litigation’s time or cost, they may be penalized under this code section.

Navigating the Process with Jafari Law and Mediation Office

If you’re facing the prospect of a de novo hearing or considering appealing a decision via this process, Jafari Law and Mediation Office can assist you. Our experienced family law professionals understand the nuances of California family courts, including the intricacies of minute orders and the implications of Family Code 271. We can guide you through the process, ensuring your case is presented effectively and your rights are upheld.

We’re Hear to Help

For those seeking a second chance in court or better clarity on their legal standing, Contact Us for Your Consultation]with Jafari Law and Mediation Office. Let us help you navigate the complexities of de novo hearings and fight for the fair outcome you and your family deserve.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. All information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. This website contains links to other third-party websites. Such links are only for the convenience of the reader, user, or browser. Jafari Law and Mediation Office and its members, employees, and owners do not recommend or endorse the contents of the third-party sites.


Success in de novo hearings can vary widely depending on the specifics of each case. The new judge will re-examine the evidence and legal arguments independently, and the outcome will depend on the strength and presentation of your case.

Not exactly. While both are forms of legal recourse for contesting decisions, a de novo hearing re-examines the case entirely from scratch, whereas an appeal typically reviews the lower court’s decision for legal errors without a re-trial of the facts.

If you disagree with a minute order, you may have the option to request a de novo hearing. It’s important to act quickly, as there are often strict time limits for making such requests.

Yes, under Family Code 271, attorney’s fees can be awarded if the court finds that a party has not cooperated in the litigation process or has unnecessarily increased the cost or duration of the case.

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