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Family Law

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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

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