Typically, in San Diego Family Law divorce actions, the Courts will issue final decrees that establish the parties’ rights and obligations. If a party subsequently fails to comply with the terms of such orders, it may not only subject them to contempt actions but also may be grounds for the Courts declining to hear any arguments they assert pertaining to the orders, pursuant to the disentitlement doctrine. The disentitlement doctrine was the topic of a recent California opinion issued in a divorce action in which the Court found that the doctrine applied but ultimately decided to hear the offending party’s appeal regardless. If you need help with a divorce issue, you should consult a San Diego divorce lawyer as soon as possible.

Facts of the Case and Procedural History

It is reported that in October 2014, the Trial Court judgment of dissolution was entered, ending the marriage between the husband and the wife, who shared two daughters. Subsequently, a series of post-judgment proceedings ensued. The husband subsequently appealed three of the orders resulting from those proceedings; the orders pertained to financial matters, including unpaid sums owed by the husband, the issuance of a writ of execution against him, and an award of attorney fees and costs to the wife.

Allegedly, before filing her respondent’s brief, the wife initiated a motion to stay or dismiss the appeal, invoking the disentitlement doctrine. This doctrine empowers an appellate court to halt or dismiss an appeal when the appellant persistently violates trial court orders. The husband opposed the motion. Continue reading

Generally, when a party files a paternity action, it is because the child’s mother and purported father disagree over the child’s parentage. In some instances, though, both parties will acknowledge a child’s paternity and will file legal documents stating as such. While they have the right to do so, such documents should not be entered into lightly as they can be difficult to set aside, as illustrated in a recent California paternity case. If you need assistance establishing or disputing a child’s paternity, it is in your best interest to speak to a San Diego paternity attorney to assess your options.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the father signed a voluntary declaration of parentage in 2007 after the birth of a child with his ex-wife. In 2020, the Los Angeles County Child Support Services Department initiated legal action to obtain a child support order from the father for the child. In response, the father filed an application to set aside the Parentage Declaration he signed years ago.

Reportedly, the father claimed that his request to set aside the declaration was based on numerous grounds, including fraud, material mistake of fact, his own mistake, and the failure of the hospital to adequately explain the form he signed. He also alleged that he was not the child’s biological father and offered DNA test results in support of his assertion. The Trial Court denied the father’s application, and he appealed. Continue reading

Divorce actions often involve a juxtaposition of emotions and legal and factual disputes that can be challenging to navigate. In San Diego Family Law Court., dissolution cases can become all the more complex if one of the parties dies before the matter is resolved. In a recent ruling, a California Court examined whether a Court has the authority to enter a judgment of dissolution after the death of one of the parties based on a settlement agreement that had been reached before the death occurred. If you anticipate your marriage ending, it is wise to talk to a San Diego divorce lawyer about your options.

Factual and Procedural History

It is reported that the husband and the wife were married in 2004 and separated more than ten years later. They had two children during their marriage. In August 2021, after a series of contested hearings, both parties and their counsel participated in a settlement conference, resulting in a comprehensive agreement (the Agreement). The Agreement covered various aspects of their separation, including custody, child support, spousal support, property division, and attorney’s fees. The Agreement specified that it would become a court order and could be incorporated into a formal dissolution judgment.

Allegedly, in late 2021after the Agreement was signed, email correspondence between the parties’ attorneys indicated disagreements and delays in finalizing the judgment. Unfortunately, the wife passed away in a car accident in December 2021. In February 2022, the wife’s attorney filed an ex parte request for entry of judgment, which was denied, leading to a subsequent request for order (RFO) and a hearing scheduled for July 14, 2022. The RFO sought to appoint the wife’s son as her successor and to retroactively enter a judgment based on the Agreement. The Trial Court entered judgment nunc pro tunc to August 24, 2021. The husband appealed. Continue reading

Discovery is an essential component of divorce actions, and the San Diego Family Law Courts will typically go to great lengths to protect that right to ensure just and efficient resolution of cases. Discover, in a San Diego Divorce or Legal Separation can include, but not limited to, the following: Written Interrogatories; Production of Documents; Deposition; Subpoena. Recently, a California Court discussed the interplay between discovery in a divorce action and a protective order in an unrelated case. If you have questions about how other proceedings may impact your rights in a divorce action, it is in your best interest to consult a San Diego divorce attorney as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the husband and wife had a brief marriage, followed by a separation and subsequent high-conflict litigation over child custody and support. After a trial in 2011, the Trial Court ordered the husband to pay monthly child support. In 2015, the wife sought a modification of the child support obligation based on alleged non-disclosure of financial information. The Court reduced the child support obligation, however.

Allegedly, in the husband April 2019, the husband raised concerns about overpaid child support and requested an order to determine arrears. The wife sought discovery related to the husband’s motion, and when he neglected to answer her requests, moved to compel his response. The Trial Court granted her motion. The husband then moved to set aside the Trial Court’s order, arguing that a protective order secured in 2017 in a separate malpractice action prevented the use of certain financial information in their family law proceedings. The Trial Court rejected the husband’s argument, and he appealed. Continue reading

Thorough and truthful financial disclosures are crucial in San Diego divorce actions to enable the Courts with making an equitable division of assets and determining whether to grant spousal support or child support. A lack of adequate disclosure can lead to significant harm, and those who are adversely affected by the other party’s failure to provide accurate financial information can seek relief via the Courts. This was demonstrated in a recent ruling in which a California Court granted a request to adjudicate an asset 20 years after the entry of a default judgment in a divorce action. While there are very strict timelines under Family Law Code Section 2122 to set aside a judgment, this case dealt with an omitted asset and the Court did not find a statute of limitations defense in this case.  If you intend to end your marriage, it is smart to speak to a San Diego divorce lawyer regarding what steps you can take to protect your rights.

History of the Case

It is reported that in April 1999, the husband filed for divorce from the wife. She did not respond, and the Trial Court entered a default judgment. Later, the wife discovered that the husband had an undisclosed pension. In April 2013, she requested an order to address the asset, but due to misunderstandings and communication barriers, the issue remained unresolved until she hired an attorney in 2015. In April 2021, the wife filed a new request to determine her interest in the pension. The husband opposed the request, arguing it was barred as the wife had not set aside the default judgment. The Trial Court determined that the pension was an omitted asset and scheduled a trial to divide it. The husband appealed.

Laches in California Divorce Actions

On appeal, the husband argued, in part, that the doctrine of laches precluded the wife from claiming an interest in his pension. Specifically, he argued the Trial Court erred by allowing the wife’s request under section 2556 of the California Family Code, which deals with community property and continuing jurisdiction, to proceed despite the defense of laches. Continue reading

California law demands that parents provide financial support for their children. This obligation arises in the context of a divorce, legal separation or paternity case. In San Diego, child support orders may be through the San Diego Family Law Court or the San Diego DCSS Court. Both orders are legal and must be obeyed.  Parents often disagree as to what constitutes an appropriate amount of support or what they feasibly can pay, though, and in some instances, it may become necessary to retain an expert to provide insight on disputed issues. In a recent California ruling, the Court discussed the admissibility of expert reports in child support actions, ultimately rejecting the father’s assertion that a report should be barred as hearsay.  This is a very complicated procedure and legal advice is advisable if you have expert witnesses for their qualification and presentations with their reports and evidence admissibility.  If you need assistance with a child support matter, it is in your best interest to speak with a San Diego child support attorney as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that, in a paternity action, the father filed a motion to reduce his child support payments to the mother. At that time, the father had custody of the couple’s son approximately 1/3 of the time. The mother responded by requesting a vocational evaluation of the father. An expert was appointed to evaluate the father’s earning capacity, but the father refused to participate in the evaluation. The father filed three motions in limine to preclude the vocational expert’s report from being admitted into evidence. The Trial Court considered but ultimately denied the motions. Continue reading

In San Diego Family Law Court child custody cases, the Judge will determine parental rights and obligations based on what is in the best interest of the child. Among other things, the Courts will consider and rule on whether either party engaged in acts of domestic violence; if there is a finding of domestic violence, it is presumed that granting that party joint legal custody rights would be detrimental to the child. In a recent California custody case in which the father challenged the Trial Court’s ruling, the Court discussed what evidence is necessary to rebut the presumption. If you need assistance with a custody matter, it is smart to meet with a San Diego child custody attorney to evaluate your options for protecting your parental rights.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the father filed a petition seeking to establish the parentage of two children born during his relationship with the mother. In January 2018, the court entered a stipulated judgment granting joint legal and physical custody to both parents and resolved other issues regarding the children. Less than a year later, both parents sought modifications to the stipulated judgment.

Reportedly, the mother filed a request for order, arguing that the father coerced her into signing the stipulated judgment. The father also filed a request for a domestic violence restraining order, alleging that the mother had engaged in acts of domestic violence against him in the past. The Trial Court conducted a trial, after which it issued a domestic violence restraining order against the mother. The Court also found that both parties engaged in acts of domestic violence but rebutted the Section 3044 of the Family Code presumption. The father appealed. Continue reading

Many married couples share finances, despite the fact that they have disparate incomes in 2023. If a couple with unbalanced incomes decides to divorce, however, it may leave one spouse without sufficient means to support themselves. Given the high costs of housing in San Diego County, may couples are having difficulty affording to live in San Diego even with two incomes.  When the spouses separate, this means two housing expenses and other expenses not incurred when cohabitating.  In such instances, the Courts may find it appropriate to grant spousal support. In a recent California case, the Court discussed the factors considered in determining whether to grant support. If you intend to end your marriage, it is wise to talk to a San Diego divorce attorney about your options. This can be an extremely contentious area in a family law case!

History of the Case

It is reported that in 2015 the husband and wife separated after more than 20 years of marriage. The husband initially agreed to pay spousal and child support, as the wife was unemployed and he owned an electrical business. In 2019, the husband retired and requested a modification of spousal support. The Court reduced the temporary support obligation to zero but stated that it could be reinstated if the wife’s counsel discovered the husband’s ability to pay.

The dissolution matter went to trial to resolve the issues of spousal support and the division of assets. A forensic accountant testified on behalf of the wife, providing an analysis of the husband’s income available for support in the years 2016-2019. The trial Court denied the wife permanent spousal support but granted her temporary support for a specific period. The husband filed objections to the Trial Court’s rulings, but the Trial Court declined to address them. The wife submitted a proposed judgment, which the Trial Court signed. The husband appealed the decision. Continue reading

When faced with allegations of domestic violence in family law cases, the San Diego Superior Court Judge’s will assess numerous factors to determine if a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) is necessary and, if so, for how long. While many DVROs are limited in duration, in some instances, they may be extended. If the Courts fail to apply the correct standard of review when evaluating requests to renew DVROs, however, it may constitute grounds for review. In a recent California ruling, the Court clarified what a party must demonstrate for the Courts to grant a DVRO renewal request. If you have questions about how domestic violence claims may impact your family law case, it is advisable to confer with a dedicated San Diego family law attorney as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural History

It is reported that the mother and the father were involved in a romantic relationship and had a one-month-old baby together when they had an argument. The father grabbed the mother and bit her ear, after which the mother called the police. The father was arrested for domestic violence. The following year, when the parties were separated, and the mother was pregnant with the couple’s second child, the father forcibly shoved the mother, grabbed the couple’s child, and walked away with her.

Allegedly, police arrested the father for domestic violence a second time. The mother then filed a request for a DVRO in their pending family law case. The Court granted a three-year DVRO.  The following year, a third incident occurred, during which the father strangled the mother, ran a knife across her neck, and threatened to kill her. Four days before the DVRO expired, the mother filed a request to renew the DVRO. The Court denied the request, and the mother appealed. Continue reading

In San Diego, California, absent a marital agreement stating otherwise, income earned during a marriage is considered marital property. As such, if a couple decides to divorce, it is crucial to determine the date of their separation, as any earnings accrued after that are considered separate. In a recent California divorce action, the Court discussed the factors evaluated in determining when the separation occurred. If you or your spouse wish to end your marriage, it is wise to confer with a San Diego family law attorney to discuss how the decision could impact you financially.

History of the Case

Allegedly, the parties married in 2007. The husband filed a divorce petition in June 2017. The parties disputed when they separated: the wife argued that separation occurred four months after they married, while the husband contended they did not separate until he filed for divorce. The case proceeded to a bench trial, after which the Trial Court adopted the husband’s reasoning. The wife appealed, arguing that the Trial Court failed to assess her conduct and intentions with regard to the marriage in consideration of the threats of deportation and domestic violence she received from the husband.

Determining When Separation Occurred in California Divorce Actions

On appeal, the Court declined to adopt the wife’s reasoning and affirmed the Trial Court’s judgment. The Court explained that the determination of the date of separation is an issue of fact, and it is established based on a preponderance of the evidence. When reviewing a Trial Court’s decision, the Court considers whether there is substantial evidence to support it, taking into account all reasonable and legitimate inferences. Continue reading

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