Amending an answer in California

Amending an answer in California is the topic of this blog post. 

Any defendant or cross-defendant in California can amend their answer within 10 days after service of the answer as a matter of right without having to file any motion with the court.

However after 10 days the party that wishes to amend their answer must request what is known as “leave of court” which means permission from the court to file and serve an amended answer.

The statutory authorization for leave to amend an answer in California is found in Code of Civil Procedure sections 473(a) and 576, which both state in pertinent part that a court may, in the furtherance of justice allow a party to amend any pleading on any terms as may be proper.

The public policy in California for well over 100 years has been one of liberally permitting amendments at any stage of the proceeding. The California policy favoring leave to amend is so strong that amendment denying leave to amend is an abuse of discretion unless the adverse party can show some form of meaningful prejudice.

Examples of prejudice include the expiration of the statute of limitations, a delay in the trial date, loss of evidence critical to the case of the opposing party, or added trial preparation costs. Unless a showing of such prejudice is made by the adverse party even delay alone is not always a sufficient reason for denying leave to amend.

The California Supreme Court ruled in a published case from over 100 years ago that liberality should be displayed in granting leave to amend an answer on the grounds that a defendant who is denied leave to amend is permanently deprived of a defense. 

There are many reasons that a party may wish to amend their answer including the fact that the discovery process may reveal facts which may give rise to the possibility of additional affirmative defenses that can be asserted.

Attorneys or parties in California who would like to view a portion of a sample 12 page motion for leave to amend an answer in California that includes brief instructions, a memorandum of points and authorities with citations to case law and statutory authority, sample declaration and proof of service sold by the author can use the link shown below.

Sample Motion for Leave to Amend Answer in California by Stan Burman on Scribd


The author of this blog post, Stan Burman, is a freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995 and has created over 300 sample legal documents for sale.

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Please note that the author of this blog post, Stan Burman is NOT an attorney and as such is unable to provide any specific legal advice. The author is NOT engaged in providing any legal, financial, or other professional services, and any information contained in this blog post is NOT intended to constitute legal advice.

The materials and information contained in this blog post have been prepared by Stan Burman for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. Transmission of the information contained in this blog post is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any business relationship between the author and any readers. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.