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Family Law

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Under Probate Code 145, a spouse waives his or her interest in the other spouse's estate by entering into "a complete property settlement agreement after or in contemplation of a separation, dissolution or annulment of their marriage."  This decision holds that to operate as such a waiver, the settlement agreement need not recite that it waives that right nor that… Read More

Under Prob. Code 1003, a court may, but is not required to, appoint a guardian ad litem for minors named as parties in the action. If the court doesn't appoint a guardian, it must itself protect the minor's interests.  Here, a guardian ad litem was appointed for the minors in related litigation, but not in this proceeding.  The guardian ad… Read More

A family court judge has jurisdiction to rule on the Attorney General's motion to unseal financial records submitted to the family court.  The public's right to documents on which a court bases its decision overrides the couple's privacy rights.  However, the record was unclear as to whether the court actually considered the records before making any substantive decision in the… Read More

Under Family Code 1615, a premarital agreement must be signed by an independent lawyer on behalf of a party that is otherwise unrepresented by counsel in connection with the agreement.  Absent signature by an independent lawyer, the premarital agreement is void, not voidable, and cannot be ratified by the unrepresented spouse's later conduct.  Also parties cannot circumvent the independent counsel… Read More

Following Ankenbrandt v. Richards (1992) 112 S.Ct. 2206, this decision states that the domestic relations exception to federal diversity jurisdiction is narrow, applying only to claims that seek issuance or modification of a divorce, alimony or child custody decree.  However, this case fell within that narrow exception.  Ex-wife's complaint alleged that ex-husband had concealed his interest in a corporation so… Read More

This decision finds that plaintiff stated a viable claim for fraudulent transfer of properties from Shahen Minassian to his wife Alice via a fraudulent marital dissolution degree with actual intent to hinder, delay or defraud creditors, including plaintiffs who secured a $100 million judgment against Shahen in underlying litigation.  The complaint alleged badges of actual intent to defraud:  transfer to… Read More

Under Family Code 1102(a), both spouses must sign a deed of trust that encumbers real estate held as community property.  If one spouse does not sign the deed of trust, that spouse can invalidate the deed of trust.  Here, the property was deeded to the spouses as joint tenants, but under Family Code 760 property acquired during marriage is presumed… Read More

When a married couple uses community funds to acquire property with joint tenancy title, the property is presumptively held as community property if acquired after January 1, 1975.  (See Fam. Code 760.)  The spouses hold joint tenancy interests in property acquired before 1975 as separate property.  For joint tenancy property acquired between January 1, 1975, and December 31, 1984, the… Read More

Husband's debt owed to a family partnership of which wife is a limited partner was non-dischargeable in husband's Chapter 11 bankruptcy, even though the debt was owed to the partnership, not wife directly. Read More

A premarital agreement that contains a recital that seven days time was given between the date first presented and the date signed is unenforceable under Family Code section 1615 if evidence shows that less time intervened between presentation and execution. Read More

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