Articles Posted in Divorce

Domestic violence is a serious issue impacting many San Diego family cases. While all accusations of domestic violence should be taken seriously, they do not all have the same impact when it comes to the outcome of divorce and custody actions. The Courts will, generally, consider relatively recent evidence that a person engaged in domestic violence when determining how to resolve disputed issues in custody matters, as explained in a recent ruling issued by a California Court. The Court can also consider a pattern of conduct including convictions for domestic violence under Penal Code Section 273.5 among others. If you want to understand how allegations that you or your co-parent engaged in acts of domestic violence may alter your custody rights, it is critical to consult a San Diego child custody attorney as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

Reportedly, the mother, who was married to the father, filed a petition for dissolution of the marriage in 2015. Six years after the filing, the Court conducted a six-day trial on the issues of custody and visitation. It then issued a final custody order in which it granted the parents joint physical and legal custody of their daughter, who was seven years old at the time.

It is alleged that the mother objected to the order, arguing that the Court erred in granting the father parental rights, as California Family Code 3044 presumes that a party that committed domestic violence within the past five years should not be granted physical or legal custody of a child. The mother asserted that the five-year period in question should run backward from the date the petition for dissolution of marriage was filed instead of from the time the Court issued the custody order. The Court rejected this argument, defining it as impractical construction. The mother then appealed. Continue reading

Parties to divorce actions have the right to resolve disputed issues such as child support, spousal support, and property division without a Court’s involvement. Typically, they will memorialize their understanding via a settlement agreement. Such agreements are binding and will typically be upheld by the Court, regardless of whether a party subsequently attempts to challenge the terms of the agreement. This was demonstrated recently when a California Court rejected a wife’s argument that a marital settlement agreement should be set aside. If you or your spouse want a divorce, it is in your best interest to retain an experienced San Diego divorce attorney to help you understand and protect your rights.

Background of the Case

It is reported that the husband and the wife married in 2008. They had three children during their marriage. They separated in September of 2018, and the wife filed a divorce action later that year. The parties then filed preliminary income and expense declarations and disclosures. In August 2020, the parties participated in a voluntary settlement conference during which they were represented by their attorneys. They each had forensic accountants present as well. Following the conference, they developed a marital settlement agreement that resolved issues of spousal support, child support, and property division.

Allegedly, the agreement contained provisions noting that it was binding and subject to enforcement under the California Code of Civil Procedure. It also stated that if either party refused to sign the agreement, the other party could request the Court to issue a judgment based on the terms of the agreement. The wife subsequently refused to sign the agreement. The husband moved to enforce the agreement, and the Court ultimately entered a judgment of dissolution of marriage based on the terms of the agreement. The wife appealed. Continue reading

Pursuant to California law, community property is divided equally between the parties in a divorce action, while separate assets remain the sole property of the owner spouse. Thus, it is critical that Courts characterize property accurately, and if a Court mischaracterizes an asset, the aggrieved party may have grounds for pursuing an appeal, as demonstrated in a recent California opinion issued in a divorce case. If you or your spouse intend to end your marriage and you have a question about how it could impact your property rights, it is shrewd to talk to a knowledgeable San Diego divorce attorney to obtain more information.

Factual History of the Case

It is alleged that the husband and wife married in December 2013. Ten months later, they purchased a home. The husband paid the $75,000 down payment for the home with his separate property, and the deed to the property was in the husband’s name only. The wife executed a quitclaim deed as well after the husband reportedly told her she could not be on the title because she did not have a social security number and should sign a document she was given, presumably the quitclaim deed.

Reportedly, the wife filed for divorce in July 2018. Following a trial in September 2021, the Trial Court ruled that the marital home was presumptively community property based on the wife’s testimony and the fact that it was purchased during the marriage. Thus, it set aside the quitclaim deed and, after subtracting the amount of the down payment, divided the equity in the home between the parties. The husband appealed. Continue reading

Raising a child is expensive, and few people can afford to do it alone. As such, in many cases where parents share custody, the Courts will order one parent to pay the other child support. Child support obligations are typically based, in part, on each party’s actual income, but in some cases, the Courts will find it appropriate to use a party’s imputed income instead. Recently, a California court discussed each party’s burden of proof in establishing their income in child support matters. If you need assistance with a child support issue, it is advisable to meet with a knowledgeable San Diego child support attorney to discuss your rights. 

Procedural Background of the Case

Reportedly, the mother and the father married in 2010 and had two children during their marriage. Both parties worked and provided financial support for the family. In 2015, the father filed a petition for dissolution of marriage. They entered into a marital settlement agreement that provided that the parties would share equal time with the children and custody rights. It also imposed a monthly child support obligation of over $800 on the father, which was derived from the parties’ income and the statutory guidelines.

The assistance of a good attorney is can be crucial to achieving a good outcome in divorce actions. Parties cannot always afford to hire capable attorneys, however. Fortunately, California law allows parties to ask the courts to order their estranged spouse to pay their attorneys’ fees while the divorce is pending. If a court refuses to weigh such a request, it may unjustly prejudice a party, as demonstrated in a recent California ruling. If you have questions about the cost of pursuing a divorce, it is smart to talk to a dedicated San Diego divorce attorney about your options.

History of the Case

It is reported that the husband and the wife married in 2005 and separated in 2017. They did not have any children. In 2018, the wife filed a petition for dissolution of marriage. The issues presented to the Court were solely financial. The wife represented herself when filing the petition but later retained an attorney who made a request for pendente lite attorney fees, among other things. The Court scheduled the hearing on the issue of fees for June 2018, but it was continued numerous times.

Allegedly, a second attorney briefly represented the wife, but he withdrew, and she once again represented herself. The Court entered a judgment of dissolution in September 2019 and ruled on reserved issues two months later. The wife retained an attorney in April 2020, and the Court issued a final judgment in February 2021 in which it denied her request for attorneys’ fees. The wife appealed the judgment. Continue reading

In many marriages, one spouse is the primary breadwinner while the other takes care of the household and raises the couple’s children. When such marriages end, the Courts will often order the breadwinner spouse to pay spousal support. The Courts assess numerous factors to determine support obligations, but as circumstances can change over time, such obligations may need to be modified. Recently, a California Court discussed what factors should weigh into the determination of whether to increase a support obligation in a case in which the former wife sought a modification. If you have questions about spousal support, it is in your best interest to talk to a knowledgeable San Diego divorce lawyer as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is alleged that the husband and the wife were married for 26 years before they separated. They had five children during the marriage. The wife stayed at home to raise the children while the husband worked as an airline pilot. The divorce was finalized in 2015; at that time, two of the couple’s children were minors. The Court ordered the husband to pay child support and spousal support.

Reportedly, in 2016, one of the children aged out of child support, and the mother began working as an instructional assistant at a school. The Court increased the mother’s spousal support by $1,000 per month. In 2020, the second child aged out of child support, and the mother sought an additional increase in spousal support. The husband opposed her request and provided a declaration of his income and expenses, which included a line item for his children’s college tuition in the amount of $7,000 per month. The Court denied the wife’s motion, and she appealed. Continue reading

It is not uncommon for a couple that is ending their marriage to draft a marital settlement agreement defining their rights and obligations and dividing community assets. While there are benefits to entering into such an agreement, there are risks as well, as demonstrated in a recent California ruling in which the Court held that broad language precluded the former wife from pursuing additional relief. If you intend to end your marriage and want to learn more about how the decision may impact you financially, it is wise to confer with a San Diego divorce lawyer to assess your options.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the wife petitioned the Court to dissolve her marriage to the husband in 2000. The parties subsequently entered into a marital settlement agreement, which was later incorporated into a dissolution judgment entered by the Court. The wife was represented by counsel during the course of negotiations for the agreement, while the husband was not. Among other things, the agreement defined certain community assets and liabilities as the separate property of each party and included language releasing each party from all interspousal obligations, regardless of whether they were incurred before or after the date of the agreement, and all claims to each other’s property.

Reportedly, the agreement also included language stating it applied to all claims the parties had against one another, whether known or unknown. In 2019, the wife filed a motion to adjudicate a community asset that was left out of the marital settlement agreement. The Court found that the agreement’s release barred the wife’s claim, as it arose out of an interspousal obligation, and denied the wife’s motion. She then appealed. Continue reading

Parents who share custody of a child do not always agree on issues relating to how the child should be raised, like health care, supervision, and what is in the child’s best interest. As such, disagreements between co-parents are common. While parental views may not always align, parents must treat each other with civility; otherwise, it could escalate to the point where the Courts deem it necessary to impose sanctions. Recently, a California Court discussed what a party must prove to demonstrate that a co-parent’s actions rise to the level of abuse in a ruling issued in a child custody case. If you have concerns regarding custody of your child, it is smart to contact a trusted San Diego child custody lawyer to discuss your rights.

Factual and Procedural Background

Reportedly, the mother filed a petition for dissolution in October 2015, and the marriage was terminated in November 2018. The parties have one 10-year-old daughter born of the marriage and co-parent pursuant to visitation and custody orders. When the child was 8, the father had primary custody, and the mother had professionally supervised visits three times a week at a visitation center. During that time, the father brought the child to the visitation center even though she was sick.

Allegedly, the mother then became argumentative and demanded the father take the child to urgent care. The father agreed, and she accompanied him to the hospital, even though he argued it violated the terms of their custody order. The mother reportedly yelled at the father the entire time. The father then filed a request for a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) seeking protection for himself and the child from the mother. Following a hearing, the Trial Court found the mother disturbed the father’s peace and issued a three-year DVRO. The mother appealed. Continue reading

Many couples have bi-coastal relationships where they reside in cities on opposite sides of the country. When a married couple that lives in different states decides to end their marriage, they may not agree over which state should hear their divorce. This was demonstrated in a recent California case, in which the Court was forced to determine if California or Massachusetts was the proper forum to dissolve a marriage. If you intend to seek a divorce, it is in your best interest to speak to a skilled San Diego divorce lawyer to evaluate your options.

The Dissolution Filings

Allegedly, the husband and the wife married in 1989 in Rhode Island. In March 2019, the husband filed a petition for a legal separation in a California Court. He then mailed a summons to the wife in Massachusetts. The wife admitted that she signed for receipt of the summons, and the husband filed the signed receipt with the appropriate Court. Approximately one month later, the wife filed a petition for dissolution in a Massachusetts Court; the summons was served on the husband nine days later.

It is reported that the day after he received the Massachusetts summons, the husband amended his earlier petition to seek dissolution and then sent a new summons to his wife. Upon receipt of the summons, the wife filed a request asking the Court to abate and quash the California action. Specifically, she argued that she filed her dissolution petition first and that Massachusetts was a better-suited forum to handle the dissolution. The Trial Court ruled in favor of the wife and abated and stayed the California case. The husband appealed. Continue reading

In some divorce matters, the parties will stipulate to certain conditions. For example, they can agree that a specific Judge will decide matters throughout the proceeding. In such instances, the scope of the Judge’s authority may not be immediately clear. This was illustrated recently in a California case in which the wife objected to the Judge’s issuance of a domestic violence restraining order. If you wish to seek a divorce and you have questions regarding how domestic violence allegations may impact your proceeding, it is advisable to confer with a skilled San Diego divorce lawyer to evaluate your rights.

The Historical Background of the Case

It is reported that the husband and the wife were married for 39 years when the wife sought a divorce. The parties then stipulated to the appointment of a specific temporary Judge. Subsequently, the husband asked the Judge to issue a domestic violence restraining order preventing the wife from contacting him and his girlfriend or entering their residence. The Judge granted the requested and issued an order she deemed a non-CLETs (California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System) domestic violence order. Domestic violence restraining orders (DVROs) are reported to law enforcement through this system. The wife appealed, arguing that the Judge exceeded the scope of her authority in issuing the order.

Authority of Appointed Judges

The Court of Appeal rejected the wife’s argument and concluded that the Judge did not surpass the scope of her appointment in issuing the domestic violence restraining order. Under California law, when a temporary Judge is appointed to a specific case, the Judge has the power to act until a final determination is issued in the proceeding. In evaluating whether a temporary Judge has the authority to resolve a particular issue, the Courts will evaluate whether the issue is directly derived from the “cause” they were originally tasked with hearing or are ancillary to the cause. For example, a motion to reconsider or vacate is directly related, while an ancillary matter relies on a separate record. Continue reading

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