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Volume 1, Number 7 • May 2011• Archives of Past Issues
Family Law Home Page

Message from the Chair

Dear Members,

As Chair of the Los Angeles County Bar Association Family Law Section, I am pleased to announce that our 43rd Annual Family Law Symposium was held on May 7, 2011, at the Universal City Hilton, to a sell-out crowd. This event has been co-sponsored each year by the Los Angeles County Bar Family Law Section and the Los Angeles Superior Court. This year given all the changes in the law the Symposium was titled "Family Law 2011: The New Realities". It is a tribute to our section that we had so many great practitioners, distinguished judicial officers, and accomplished professionals at the event. We were honored again to have as our keynote introductory speaker the Supervising Family Law Judge of all of Los Angeles County, Judge Marjorie Steinberg, and seven Judicial Officers who took time from their weekend schedules to be panelists. Special thanks and recognition are due to Robert C. Brandt, Symposium Chair, and also Chair-Elect of our Section, for his efforts in organizing the symposium and to his hard-working subcommittee. Thanks are also due to the moderators and panelists who participated in making this a great seminar, to Seth Kramer for his efforts in obtaining the exhibitors, and to Gail Coleman, our Section Administrator, for all she does for our Section.

This year, our Family Law Section provided programs designed to inform and instruct practitioners regarding the changes initiated by the Elkins Task Force. Thanks are due to our CLE Co-Chairs and all speakers and moderators who worked on our excellent programs.

Our 32nd Annual Child Custody Colloquium focused on the voices of the child in contested custody proceedings in light of the Elkins Task Force recommendations. In December we had a program entitled "Elkins: How To Litigate A Case Under The New Law". In February we had a program entitled: "When Court Proceedings Do Not Go as You Planned, What Do You Do Next?"

Our interactive "Evidence with the Masters Program: Family Code Section 217 Tamed", was of particular relevance to family law practitioners in the new "217 era of live hearings". Our Central District Judicial Officers, at a brown bag lunch, responded to our questions about the effects of Elkins on their courtrooms and current courtroom procedures. Our upcoming Forensic/Financials Beyond the Basics Program on June 18, 2011, at the Universal City Hilton, will demonstrate direct and cross examination of accountants on complex issues in family law.

The Executive Committee also reviews and comments on proposed legislation, proposes affirmative legislation, and is involved with amicus briefwriting and review. Some of our members are also delegates to the LACBA Conference of Delegates.

On January 24, 2011, the Family Law Section Executive Committee provided its comments to the Judicial Council on their proposed Statewide Rules of Court, amendments, and forms. On April 3, 2011, our Executive Committee submitted comments to the February 18, 2011 Proposed Revisions to the Local Rules of the Los Angeles Superior Court, Chapter 5, Family Division Rules.

The Invitations to Comment - Spring 2011 Proposals to Changes to California Rules of Court and Judicial Council Forms are currently circulating for comment. Each of you is invited to comment; your input and viewpoints are critical. The specific items addressing family law include 35-46 and items 52-55.

Other significant contributions made by our Family Law Section Executive Committee members include enhancing and improving the mediation and voluntary settlement officer court panels, including adding mediators, retired judicial officers, and accountants to these groups. Our donation subcommittee recommended contributions to the LACBA Domestic Violence Project and to other family law organizations including those serving lower income families. Judicial Profiles have been prepared and updated of our Family Law Judicial Officers. Our website has been improved. Our E-News has been provided on a regular basis which includes outstanding case reviews. Forms and court rules continue to be reviewed and updated. Outreach has been enhanced to reach other groups and bar associations. We are in the process of creating a mentorship program. We are also reaching out to other LACBA sections. Our listserve continues to be an outstanding resource for practitioners.

Thank you to all of our Family Law Section Executive Committee members, liaisons, and Judicial Officers, for working tirelessly throughout the year and making significant contributions to the practice of family law.

Thanks also to all of you, the members of the Family Law Section, for your participation and support throughout the year at our programs and on our renowned listserve.

I am honored to serve as Chair of the Family Law Section for the 2010-2011 term, a time of uncertainty and challenges in family law, and thank you for this opportunity.


Debra S. Frank, Chair, Family Law Section

Events Coming Soon

View All Family Law Events

Forensic Accounting Beyond the Basics: How to Prove Your Financial Case Through the Use of a Forensic Accountant and How to Oppose the Forensic Accountant.
Saturday June 18, 2011, Universal City Hilton:

The panel will put on a demonstration on how to put on your financial case through the accountant on direct examination and how to oppose the accountant on cross examination. This distinguished panel consisting of prominent Family Law attorneys, Forensic Accountants, and a well respected Judicial Officer who was formerly an exemplary family law litigator will teach you how to prove your case through the use of a forensic accounting expert and how to oppose the forensic accountant on such issues as goodwill and cash flow available for support. The panel will provide an in depth discussion on gathering evidence and presenting evidence in court. The panel will demonstrate direct and cross examination of the accountants. Objections will be ruled upon. In light of Family Code Section 217, this program will be worthwhile and of critical importance for attorneys of all levels of experience.

Judge Thomas Trent Lewis, Los Angeles Superior Court
Paul White, CPA, White, Zuckerman, Warsavsky, Luna & Hunt, LLP
Paula Kane, Esq., Law Offices of Paula Kane
Patrick Greene, CPA, White, Zuckerman, Warsavsky, Luna & Hunt, LLP
Peter M. Walzer, Esq., CFLS, Walzer & Melcher, LLP


Pending Legislation

SB 481 was introduced by Senator Roderick Wright to add a factor FC 4320 (factors for a trial court to consider in setting spousal support).

(n) The extent to which income for support was already capitalized and paid to the other spouse in the division of community property, to avoid double counting the income when the result would be inequitable, based on all of the circumstances presented.

It may be helpful for you to know a little more background about this issue.

This issue was addressed in Blazer, In re Marriage of (2009) 176 Cal.App.4th 1438, 99 Cal.Rptr.3d 42 as follows: In his cross-appeal, the husband (Scott) contends that the permanent spousal support order unfairly charges him a second time for earnings from the business that he operates. In his view, since the wife received half of the business's going-concern value in the property division, the court should not consider the entire stream of business income in assessing his ability to pay support. The husband asks us to announce a new rule in California prohibiting such "double dipping".

Special Note

The Judicial Council adopted the rule on live testimony & declarations at its meeting last Friday, April 29th. It will now become effective on July 1, 2011.

Case Summaries

Posted: Friday, April 29, 2011
When a parent who shares joint custody of a minor makes a request to relocate the child in the context of an initial custody determination, the trial court must decide de novo what physical custody arrangement would be in the child's best interests. In making its custody determination, the court must proceed on the assumption that the parent who is making the request will relocate his or her own residence, regardless of whether the court grants or denies the request.
Mark T. v. Jamie Z.
filed April 28, 2011, Fourth District, Div. One
Cite as D057091
Full text click here

Posted: Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 377.60 requires only that an alleged putative spouse "believed in good faith" that the marriage was valid. This language does not establish an objective standard but rather refers to the alleged putative spouse's state of mind and asks whether that person actually believed the marriage was valid and whether he or she held that belief honestly, genuinely, and sincerely, without collusion or fraud.
Ceja v. Rudolph & Sletten, Inc.
filed April 19, 2011, Sixth District
Cite as H034826
Full text click here

Posted: Friday, April 15, 2011
General presumption that property acquired during marriage is community property was properly applied to a lump-sum payout of workers' compensation disability benefits. In absence of evidence that wife received any prior temporary disability payments--or of any apportionment by the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board of amounts attributable to past or future lost earnings or earning potential, or past or future medical expenses--trial court did not abuse its discretion by determining that it was appropriate to apportion the award pro rata between the period wife was disabled during the marriage and her remaining working life after the separation--based on her salary at the time of her injury and the assumption that she would have retired at age 62.5 if she had continued working.
In re Ruiz
filed April 14, 2011, Fourth District, Div. Two
Cite as E049310
Full text click here

Posted: Friday, April 8, 2011
A stipulation by mother and father that Family Court Services report's recommendations "be adopted as an order of the court without prejudice to either party," which was then adopted by the trial court, did not constitute a final judicial custody determination. Trial court abused its discretion by failing to address what arrangement for custody would be in child's best interests if and when custodial parent moved to another state, basing its decision on move-away motion in part on whether parent's reasons for his proposed move were "sufficient" or "necessary," and relying on probability that the move would be detrimental to child's relationship with mother to the exclusion of any other factors. Presumption that an award of sole or joint custody of child to parent who has perpetrated domestic violence against that child would be detrimental to the child's best interests is rebuttable, regardless of whether the act of domestic violence resulted in a criminal conviction.
F.T. v. L.J.
filed March 8, 2011, publication ordered April 6, 2011, Fourth District, Div. One
Cite as 2011 S.O.S. 1809
Full text click here

Posted: Thursday, March 17, 2011
Mother's engaging in an unlawful sexual relationship with minor did not pose a risk of serious harm to child conceived during this relationship. Absent any evidence that mother had a propensity for exercising poor judgment and impulse control or neglected or endangered child, juvenile court erred in taking jurisdiction over child. Consensual sexual relationship with an unrelated minor did not give rise to a probability mother would sexually abuse her infant daughter.
In re B.T.
filed February 9, 2011, publication ordered March 11, 2011, Fourth District, Div. Three
Cite as 2011 S.O.S. 1416
Full text click here

Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Sufficient evidence supported trial court's finding that the beneficial parent-child relationship exception to adoption preference was inapplicable where mother's visitation with children was sporadic and children looked to other family members to fulfill their emotional and physical needs.
In re C.F.
filed March 16, 2011, Fourth District, Div. One
Cite as D058382
Full text click here

Posted: Monday, March 14, 2011
Trial court erred in imposing monetary sanctions on client for unnecessary litigation by her former attorney without giving prior notice that such sanctions were under consideration and without allowing client topresent evidence in opposition to sanctions or as to why sanctions should be imposed solely on the attorney. Amount of attorney fees awarded as sanctions was unsupported by substantial evidence where there was no testimony that fees were incurred or paid in that amount.
In re Marriage of Duris and Urbany
filed March 14, 2011, Second District, Div. Six
Cite as 2011 S.O.S. 1353
Full text click here

Posted: Wednesday, March 9, 2011
A family law court abuses its discretion when it bases an order for spousal support on a finding that a spouse's present earnings from long-term employment can be increased by taking a retirement, and returning to work in an available, but different, position; a spouse who continues working in a long-held position should not have his or her support obligation based on his or her earnings capacity measured by some alternative employment scenario.
In re Marriage of Kochan
filed March 9, 2011, Second District, Div. Eight
Cite as B215355
Full text click here

Posted: Friday, March 4, 2011
Only a party that has served a preliminary or final declaration of disclosure is entitled to seek an award of monetary sanctions against the other party for failure to comply with the applicable disclosure requirements under Family Code Sec. 2107. Although the extent to which the moving party's conduct furthers or frustrates settlement may be an appropriate consideration for a court considering an award of attorney fees and costs based on opposing party's noncompliance and uncooperative conduct, Sec. 271 does not necessarily require that the moving party be in compliance with particular obligations before moving for an award.
In re Marriage of Fong
filed March 3, 2011, Second District, Div. Three
Cite as B217038
Full text click here

Note: Juvenile and Dependency Court Cases are not included

Los Angeles County Bar Association
2010-2011 Family Law Section Newsletter
Peter M. Walzer, Editor


Debra S. Frank
Debra S. Frank, APLC

Robert C. Brandt
Feinberg Mindel Brandt & Klein, LLP

Vice Chair
Lynette Berg Robe
Law Offices of Lynette Berg Robe, APC

Peter M. Walzer
Walzer & Melcher LLP

Seth Kramer
Law Office of Seth D. Kramer

Immediate Past Chair
Roberta B. Bennett
Bennett & Erdman

Section Administrator
Gail Coleman

Andrea Balian
Judy L. Bogen
Ronald F. Brot
Gary Fishbein
Rosemarie Gallegos
Raymond R. Goldstein
Christiaan J. Gordon
Richard F. Gould-Saltman
Barbara K. Hammers
Paula Kane
David S. Karton
Connolly Oyler
Cari M. Pines
Lucia A. Reyes

Claudia N. Ribet
Glen H. Schwartz
David Shebby
Haewon Shin
Roslyn S. Soudry
Joseph P. Spirito
Jeff M. Sturman
Evan T. Sussman
Sorrell Trope
Heidi S. Tuffias
Charles Wake
Marshall Waller
David K. Yamamoto

Hon. Marjorie S. Steinberg,
   Supervising Judge, Family Law
Hon. Scott M. Gordon
   Assistant Supervising Judge, Family Law    Departments
Commr. John Chemeleski
Hon. Mark A Juhas
Hon. Maren E. Nelson

William J. Glucksman
Harold J. Cohn
James R. Eliaser
Ira M. Friedman
Hon. Dianna J. Gould-Saltman
Lawrence E. Leone
Dvorah Markman
Leonard J. Meyberg Jr.


Noel H. Applebaum, CPA
Tracy Katz, CPA/CFF
David Kuroda, LCSW
Margaret A. Little, Ph.D.
Mary Lund, Ph.D
Paul J. White, CPA