Court Examines the Disentitlement Doctrine in California Divorce Actions

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.

The Disentitlement Doctrine in California Divorce Actions

The Court ultimately declined to apply the doctrine to deny the husband’s appeal. In its analysis, the court explained that the doctrine empowers an Appellate Court to stay or dismiss an appeal when the appellant has exhibited a pattern of willful disobedience or disregard for valid Trial court orders, raising questions about their entitlement to the appellate process.

In the subject case, the Court acknowledged the appropriateness of applying the disentitlement doctrine, given the husband’s consistent failure to comply with lawful trial court orders. It found such noncompliance constituted a compelling argument for the application of the doctrine.

However, despite the strong grounds for dismissal under the disentitlement doctrine, the Court opted to proceed with reviewing the merits of the husband’s appeal. This decision was reached after considering various factors, demonstrating a measured approach by the court in balancing the disentitlement doctrine’s application with the husband’s right to have his appeal reviewed on its substantive merits.

Confer with a Skilled California Divorce Attorney

People bound by divorce decrees have a duty to uphold any court-imposed obligations, and if they fail to do so, it may adversely impact their rights moving forward. If you have questions about your options with regard to enforcing a divorce decree, it is smart to confer with an attorney. The skilled San Diego divorce attorneys of Doppelt and Forney APLC possess the knowledge and resources needed to help you seek a favorable outcome, and if you hire us, we will work only on your behalf. You can reach us through our online form or call us at 800-769-4748 to set up a free and confidential consultation.

Posted in:

Comments are closed.

Contact Information