Nunc Pro Tunc California Family Law

The Family Code permits the court to enter a decree of dissolution nunc pro tunc in situations where failure to timely enter the judgment is due to mistake, negligence or inadvertence. (Fam. Code, 2346, subd. (a).) As well, The California courts have inherent power to enter judgments retroactively. A judgment nunc pro tunc " ' "should be granted or refused as justice may require in view of the circumstances of a particular case . . . ." ' " (In re Marriage of Mallory (1997) 55 Cal.App.4th 1165, 1177; see Phillips v. Phillips (1953) 41 Cal.2d 869, 875.) It almost goes without saying that the reason to exercise this power is to preserve the "legitimate fruits" of litigation that would otherwise be lost to the party seeking an antedated judgment. (Mather v. Mather (1943) 22 Cal.2d 713, 719; Scalice v. Performance Cleaning Systems (1996) 50 Cal.App.4th 221, 239.) The showing necessary to validate exercise of the court's power to antedate a judgment is not onerous. (In re Marriage of Mallory, supra, 55 Cal.App.4th at p. 1179.) A court will always act on its inherent authority when the court itself is responsible for the delay or failure to enter judgment. (Id. at pp. 1179-1180.) Where a party's conduct is at issue, it suffices to show that the party lacked heedfulness or was inattentive in not acting when action was required. (Id. at p. 1180.) Indeed, inadvertence or negligence sufficient to cure delay in entering judgment will be found where the party entitled to judgment had no valid reason to delay entry. (Ibid.) However, the deliberate decision of a spouse's executor to await progress of an appeal and thus forego applying for entry of judgment does not constitute adequate grounds for antedating the judgment. (In re Marriage of Frapwell (1975) 53 Cal.App.3d 479, 484.)