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An unadopted stepchild may establish that the decedent was his parent for purposes of distribution of his intestate estate by proving the requirements set forth in either the Uniform Parentage Act (Fam. Code 7600 et seq.) which is incorporated by reference by Prob. Code 6453 or the separate requirements of Prob. Code 6454.  So the lack of a legal barrier… Read More

Husband's divorce attorney violated the federal Wiretapping Statute (18 USC 2511) when he filed transcripts of conversations between wife and her child which husband had surreptitiously taped on a recorder hidden in the child's backpack.  Husband couldn't vicariously consent on the child's behalf to recording the conversations since the child was not in husband's custody at the time of the… Read More

Under Fam. Code 6342(a)(1), a trial court may award "restitution be paid to the petitioner for loss of earnings and out-of-pocket expenses, including, but not limited to, expenses for medical care and temporary housing, incurred as a direct result of the abuse inflicted by the respondent in a Domestic Violence Prevention Act proceeding.  This decision holds that "restitution" in this… Read More

Estate of Cornelious (1984) 35 Cal.3d 461 remains good law.  Under Probate Code 7540(a), a child is conclusively presumed to be issue of the man married to the child's mother, so long as the two were cohabiting at the time of conception and of birth.  Such a child is not allowed, at least for inheritance purposes, to prove that he… Read More

Family Code 271 allows a judge on motion of a party to a marital dissolution proceeding to sanction the opposing party for conduct that frustrates the policy of the law to promote settlement of litigation.  Here, the judge abused his discretion in awarding sanctions against wife's attorney under that section, as the statute allows sanctions only against a party, not… Read More

Wife getting a divorce revealed private sensitive formation about husband to her investigator who relayed the information to an agent.  This decision holds that the disclosure of the sensitive information was closely enough related to the divorce proceedings to be protected conduct under CCP 425.16(e).  The sensitive information related to possible financial misdealing that wife wanted the investigator to look… Read More

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

A spouse is liable for the other spouse’s debts incurred for the “necessaries of life” before separation, but only for debts incurred for the "common necessaries of life" after separation and before divorce; the former includes only the basics of food, clothing, and shelter, whereas the latter is a broader category that takes into account the circumstances of the particular… Read More

Denial of 5-year renewal of wife’s injunction against abusive ex-husband was an abuse of discretion given the ex-husband’s history of abusing the wife and children.  Read More

Conservator and attorney fees are not considered “support and maintenance” for purposes of Probate Code 3089, which allows community property to be divided for the support and maintenance of an incompetent spouse if the competent spouse refuses to pay for it voluntarily.  Read More

Ordinarily, a movant has no standing to seek disqualification of another party's attorney unless the movant had a prior attorney-client, confidential, or fiduciary relationship with that attorney.  Husband does not have standing to seek disqualification of wife's counsel in a marital dissolution proceeding. Husband sought disqualification on the ground that counsel had purchased the couple's former residence from wife to… Read More