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Volume II, Number 3 •June 2012 • Archive of Past Issues
Family Law Home Page

Message from the Chair

To The Los Angeles County Bar Association Family Law Section and the Family Law Community:

On behalf of the Executive Committee of the LACBA Family Law Section, I want to thank all of you who have participated, contributed, and been part of the Family Law Community during this term. During the last year, and especially at this time, we are experiencing significant changes in substantive and procedural law. These changes result not only from the Elkins Task Force and the implementation of Elkins related legislation, including Family Code Section 217, but also as a result of the tremendous budget cuts the Los Angeles Superior Court is experiencing due to the economic situation California finds itself in. Regardless of all of these changes and the economic realities we are confronted with, I can declare with pride that the Family Law Community has risen to the challenge and done all that it reasonably can to turn what could be a negative situation into a positive one.

The Family Law Community in Los Angeles has been most fortunate in that our Family Law Judiciary, led by Family Law Supervising Judge Scott Gordon, has implemented procedural creativity which will contribute to continuing to provide family law litigants access to justice.

It is impossible to thank each and every Family Law practitioner, Judicial Officer, professional staff member or administrator who has contributed in so many various and significant ways to the advancement of Family Law in Los Angeles. The Family Law Executive Committee, its officers and its participants have my gratitude for their time and efforts this term.

Our Section produced Continuing Legal Education events that were not only successful attendance-wise, but provided significant educational benefits to the community. The term commenced with the enormously informative Child Custody Colloquium, again chaired by Glen Schwartz, the 2011-2012 recipient of the prestigious Spencer Brandeis Award. The Child Custody Colloquium was followed by a Post-Elkins Seminar which was chaired by Peter Walzer and addressed procedural and substantive changes in the law which provided the audience with additional knowledge and ideas. The Section produced an entertaining and extremely useful Family Law Crossovers Presentation in March, which was chaired by Barbara Hammers, our CLE Chairperson, with the assistance of David Shebby; the event was extremely helpful with many innovative ideas. We also recently concluded the annual Family Law Symposium chaired by Seth Kramer. The Symposium was an immensely successful event involving numerous participants and sponsors, along with our first after-Seminar Mixer. On June 30 the Section will be presenting a Trial Advocacy Program chaired by Ron Brot. We expect that this program will provide significant trial ideas and recommendations to the Family Law Community with respect to ongoing procedural and substantive trial issues in Family Law.

Let me also thank our ADR Mediation Co-Chairs Debra Frank, Heidi Tuffias and Dvorah Markman for their continuing efforts with respect to the mediation programs within the Los Angeles Superior Court. I also must extend my gratitude to the Family Law Section's Legislative Committee and its Chair, Charles Wake, for their continuing efforts in advancing and advocating meaningful Family Law legislation in California. I would be remiss if I also did not thank Raymond Goldstein, our Outreach Committee and ENews Letter Chair, and Ellin Palmer, our ListServe Monitor, for their continuing efforts and time they have expended to assure that the Family Law ListServe remains an effective tool for dialogue in the Family Law Community. I would also like to thank Joe Spirito for his Judicial profiles, Rosemary Gallegos for her advocacy on behalf of Minor's Counsel, and Judy Bogen for her leadership in our Forms and Court Rules Committee. And, finally, a special thanks to Gail Coleman, our Section's Liaison with LACBA, for her tireless work and great assistance.

Regardless of the significant procedural and substantive changes, and the tremendous budget cuts we are faced with, I am confident that the Family Law Section will continue to serve as a vehicle for the advancement of Family Law principles and provide access to justice in Los Angeles County. It has been my honor and privilege to serve as Chair as the Family Law Section for 2011-2012 and I thank all of you for your participation in our Family Law Community.

Cordially,

ROBERT C. BRANDT
Chair, Los Angeles County Bar Association
Family Law Section

A Message From Scott M. Gordon, Supervising Judge

We are undergoing a period of great change and transition in the Justice system. Most of what I have had to share with you of late has been about these changes. I would like to take a pause here to convey a message of a different sort, message of thanks and congratulations.

In order to make the transitions to the changes in Family Law easier, we recently conducted a Settlement Week in Central Division. Working with Dennis Wasser and Jim Eliaser of the Beverly Hills Bar Association, in a matter of a few weeks the Settlement Week was conducted May 14th through May 18th. Members of the Bar, Forensic Accountants and senior staff from Family Court Services came together to help.

Through the efforts of the volunteers organized by the Beverley Hills Bar Association and the staff of the Family Law Division, 52 cases (the majority of them were trials set in June and July) were set to go through the process.

Of the 52 cases set, parties from 45 cases appeared and went through the settlement process. Of the cases that went through the process:

24 cases were fully settled
3 cases were partially settled
9 cases were not settled
6 cases were continued for further settlement.

This effort resulted in 89 requested trials days being cleared. Many of the litigants who went through the process were very grateful and called the efforts of the volunteers a gift.

To: Hugh John Gibson, Doug Baby, Bruce Cooperman, Robert Brandt, Noel Applebaum, Lynn Soodik, Stacy Phillips, Robert Kipper, Bob Cohen, Terry Hargrave, Bob Kaufman, Scott Robinson, Lawrence Leone, Pat DeCarolis, Tracy Katz, Roberta Bennett, Lee Salisbury, Michael Kretzmer, Alexandra Leichter, Don Miod, John Ellis, Jane Saltsman, Barry Harian, Elyse Margolin and Rob Screiber.

Thank you.

A Message From the Editor

This issue will mark the completion of my first term as Editor and, as I reflect on the work we have done over the past year, I am encouraged and excited to continue to serve as your Editor for the following term.

We have, and continue to, seek out original content, whether it be substantive articles, practice tips or announcements related and relevant to, our family law community.

If you have other ideas related to the inclusion of material you believe would be of interest to the family law bar, please do not hesitate to contact me.

RAYMOND R. GOLDSTEIN
Editor, E-News
Goldstein@EnforceSupport.com

Upcoming MCLE

2012 Family Law Trial Advocacy Program

Experienced family law litigators and judges will take attendees through discussions and demonstrations of each phase of a financial dissolution of marriage trial, including pretrial considerations, opening statements, direct and cross examination of the parties and witnesses, exhibits, rebuttal, and closing arguments.

The latest changes to family law procedure, effective July 1, 2012, will also be described. This program is essential for all family law attorneys.

Click here for more information and to register.

View All Family Law Events

An Update From Levitt & Quinn

Tai Glenn has been selected as the new Executive Director by the Levitt & Quinn Family Law Center Board of Directors. Glenn joins Levitt & Quinn after serving as the Pro Bono Director at the Legal Aid Foundation Los Angeles (LAFLA) for the past three years.

"After an extensive search, we are so pleased to have a great advocate and leader like Tai on board," said Levitt & Quinn Board President Dinah C. Ruch. "She has a clear vision to lead the organization along new avenues which will enable us to serve more low-income people with their family law needs."

Glenn has been an influential advocate for the rights of poor and low-income individuals for almost 20 years. She has served LAFLA since 1999, and early on was instrumental in forming its highly regarded Housing Improvement Project. She then went on to become Directing Attorney of the Housing and Eviction Defense Units before becoming Pro Bono Director in 2008. Glenn is also the 2011 recipient of Loyola Law School's Public Interest Award and currently serves on the Los Angeles County Bar Association's Access to Justice Committee and the California State Bar Statewide Pro Bono Coordinating Committee.

"Levitt & Quinn has a stellar reputation in protecting the rights of families. I am honored to be selected by its Board of Directors to lead an organization so highly respected in the legal community," said Glenn.

Glenn's appointment is effective January 16, when she will replace Sharon Hulse, who stepped down after serving as the Executive Director since 2007. Levitt & Quinn is pleased that Hulse has agreed to continue serving the organization as the Director of Operations. Since 1981, Levitt & Quinn has helped more than 45,000 families find resolutions they deserve through a variety of affordable services, including court appearances, in key areas of family law such as adoption, child support, custody and visitation, domestic violence and guardianship.

Please mark your calendars for our 2012 Gala:

WHEN: September 22, 2012
HONORING: Judge Thomas Trent Lewis and posthumously, Don Michael Anthony
WHERE: Luxe Hotel

Feel free to call me if you have any questions at (213) 482-1800 ext. 300
Sharon Hulse
Director of Operations
Levitt & Quinn

A Shout-Out from the Harriet Buhai Center

The need for pro bono attorneys to assist families in crisis has never been greater. The Harriet Buhai Center offers attorneys of all levels of experience the opportunity to be of service to low income families in Los Angeles County. If you are a new lawyer, training and mentorship will be provided. If you are a seasoned lawyer, this is an unparalleled opportunity to share your expertise with others in need. Flexible volunteer opportunities range from one-on-one client meetings to limited scope court appearances to full pro bono representation. For more information regarding volunteer opportunities, please contact David Shebby at dshebby@jssfamilylaw.com

Also, don't forget our invaluable family law training manual, the California Family Law Basics 24th Edition, which is over 1,200 pages of step by step guides to California Divorce, Paternity, Custody, Support, Domestic Violence and Property; With Pleadings, Procedures and Forms. Click here for ordering or more information.

Case Summaries

Filed: Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Notice provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act applied where father named on birth certificate voluntarily acknowledged paternity and filed form stating that his father "is or was" a member of a tribe. Purported conflict between the form and father's alleged statement to social worker that he lacked Indian heritage did not excuse compliance with ICWA in absence of a further inquiry by social worker.
In re Gabriel G.
filed May 22, 2012, publication ordered June 12, 2012, Second District, Div. Two
Cite as B237553
Full text click here

Filed: Thursday, May 24, 2012
Indian Child Welfare Act does not require the inclusion of information about great-great-ancestors in notices to tribes. Any error in failing to include child's name in ICWA notice was harmless where that child's sibling was named, and the children were claiming Indian heritage through the same mother.
In re J. M.
filed May 23, 2012, Second District, Div. Eight
Cite as B235963
Full text click here

Filed: Thursday, May 17, 2012
Credit in the California Public Employees' Retirement System that husband elected to purchase with community funds during his marriage to wife, and which he was eligible to purchase because he had performed four years of military service with the U.S. armed forces prior to the marriage, was community property because it was purchased with community funds during the parties' marriage.
In re Marriage of Green
filed May 16, 2012, First District, Div. Four
Cite as A129436
Full text click here

Filed: Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Order permitting dependent siblings to be placed separately was not an abuse of discretion where--primarily due to behavioral problems--no foster care placement has been successful, children had been living at an emergency shelter group home for over one year, and social workers and other professionals ultimately determined that they each stood a better chance of a long-term foster care placement if they were placed separately. Rule allowing parent only two court days to file an opposition to an application seeking authorization to administer psychotropic medication to a dependent child did not deprive mother of due process where court ordered her opposition to be filed, despite its late presentation, and ordered the opposition be transmitted to the prescribing doctor to apprise him of mother's concerns regarding child's medication and treatment.
In re A. S.
filed May 15, 2012, Fourth District, Div. Three
Cite as G045896
Full text click here

Filed: Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Because alleged father appeared in dependency proceedings and filed a Statement Regarding Parentage (JV-505) in which he requested a determination of biological paternity, the juvenile court was obliged to make that determination, whether by genetic testing or otherwise. Order granting his request for paternity testing but requiring him to pay for the testing was error.
In re B. C.
filed May 14, 2012, Second District, Div. Three
Cite as 2012 S.O.S. 2276
Full text click here

Filed: Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Trial court's finding that father was entitled to object to termination of his parental rights through adoption, pursuant to Adoption of Kelsey S., 1 Cal. 4th 816 (1992), was supported by substantial evidence where father participated, as far as the mother would allow, during prenatal care; he attempted to marry mother; their relationship was terminated by mother, who then blocked father from receiving any information on the yet-unborn minor; and father almost immediately sought the court's protection by filing an action to determine paternity and by obtaining DNA testing to determine parentage.
Adoption of H.R.
filed April 24, 2012, Third District
Cite as C068485
Full text click here

Filed: Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Welfare and Institutions Code Sec. 300(f), which permits termination of parental rights without reunification services if "[t]he child's parent or guardian caused the death of another child through abuse or neglect," does not require that the parent's actions or omissions meet the criminal law standard of causation; it is sufficient that those acts or omissions be causally related to the child's death. Termination under Sec. 300(f) was supported by substantial evidence in that mother exposed her children to a drug lifestyle by living in a drug house and using drugs in their presence, used stolen prescription drugs with a friend and permitted the friend to stay overnight, and failed to secure the drugs to prevent the children's access to them, so that mother's conduct was a substantial factor causing her 5-year-old son to ingest multiple pills of dangerous narcotics that led to his death.
J.M. v. Superior Court (Ventura County Human Services Agency)
filed March 28, 2012, publication ordered April 25, 2012, Second District, Div. Six
Cite as B237797
Full text click here

Filed: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Substantial evidence supported trial court's finding that the sibling-relationship exception to the statutory preference for adoption did not apply where the children did not grow up in the same home, and the dependent children, while happy to have weekly visits with their sibling, did not indicate that continuation of the sibling relationship was so important to them as to outweigh the benefits of adoption. Sibling of dependent children lacked standing to challenge juvenile court's adoptability finding.
In re D. M.
filed April 24, 2012, Fourth District, Div. One
Cite as D060598
Full text click here

Filed: Monday, April 23, 2012
Welfare and Institutions Code Sec. 361.4, which generally provides that a dependent child shall not be placed with any person convicted of a crime other that a minor traffic violation, is not limited to initial placements. In absence of an exemption, removal of child was required when it was learned that relative with whom child had been placed had a criminal conviction. Power to grant exemptions from Sec. 361.4 lies exclusively with social services agency. Juvenile court may order agency to reconsider its denial but has no power to place child with relative who has a conviction absent such an exemption, or to refuse to terminate the placement once criminal record is discovered. Where it was uncontested that relative failed to obtain an exemption, and agency petitioned to terminate placement--assuming that such a petition was necessary--it was an abuse of discretion for court to dismiss petition as insufficient rather than allowing agency to amend it to conform to proof and granting it.
In re M. L.
filed April 20, 2012, First District, Div. Five
Cite as A132667
Full text click here

Filed: Friday, April 20, 2012
Evidence father inappropriately touched his adolescent stepdaughter did not support finding that the sons were at risk of sexual abuse or otherwise justify order removing them from his custody and limiting him to monitored visitation. There was no evidence that the boys were in any way aware of father's actions, father had moved out of family home and was in compliance with order prohibiting further contact with stepdaughter, and father's conduct toward stepdaughter did not constitute clear and convincing evidence that the 8- and 10-year-old boys were at risk of being similarly victimized.
In re Alexis
filed April 19, 2012, Second District, Div. Four
Cite as B234147
Full text click here

Filed: Friday, April 20, 2012 Juvenile court--which rejected evidence that father accused of child abuse had denied the allegation and been shown to be truthful in a polygraph test--did not abuse its discretion by relying solely on scientific literature to determine that there was no scientific consensus in favor of the reliability of such evidence, or in excluding testimony of putative expert who had an interest in the outcome based on his ownership of a polygraph service and his public advocacy of polygraphy, or of another who lacked relevant expertise. Due process does not require that a court allow presentation of polygraph evidence where a proper foundation has not been established under Kelly/Frye test. Exclusion of polygraph evidence was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Even if court admitted the findings as evidence of father's credibility, it could have granted the petition based on contrary, credible testimony of other witnesses.
In re Jordan R.
filed March 27, 2012, publication ordered April 20, 2012, Fourth District, Div. One
Cite as D059985
Full text click here

Filed: Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Father's conduct in litigation, including his seeking to be relieved of the obligation to pay support for dependent child, did not excuse agency's failure to comply with Indian Child Welfare Act.
In re A. G.
filed April 16, 2012, Firs District, Div. Three
Cite as A132447
Full text click here

Filed: Thursday, April 12, 2012
Juvenile court did not abuse its discretion in permitting 14-year-old girl, who claimed to have been molested by her mother's cohabitant, to testify where child's answers to court's inquiries reflected that she understood the nature of the proceeding and the importance of telling the truth, notwithstanding child's mental disabilities. Substantial evidence of abuse of one child was sufficient to support finding that all other minor children living in the home, who were victim's siblings, were at risk of physical harm where victim was particularly vulnerable, and the abuse was conducted in a place where it was observed by her younger sister and capable of being observed by other siblings. Juvenile court erred in assuming jurisdiction with respect to child who had never lived in home where abuse occurred.
In re Ana C.
filed April 12, 2012, Second District, Div. Eight
Cite as
Full text click here

Filed: Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Trial court erred in granting husband's judgment creditor a charging lien against nondebtor spouse's interest in certain partnerships and limited liability companies that were divided pursuant to a marital settlement agreement. Upon entering into an enforceable MSA, the parties accomplished a division of their community estate such that the community property awarded to wife became her separate property prior to attachment of the charging liens, even though judgment dividing the property was not entered until after the liens attached.
Litke O'Farrell, LLC v. Tipton
filed April 10, 2012, First District, Div. Four
Cite as A132327
Full text click here

Filed: Friday, April 6, 2012
Welfare and Institutions Code Sec. 361.5(b)(10) authorizes denial of reunification services to parents who have had reunification services terminated as to a sibling of child who is subject of current proceeding, but it was error for court to rely on that provision to deny services where the subject of current and prior proceedings was the same child. Guardianship is not equivalent to removal of child from parental custody under Sec. 361, so parents whose child was placed with guardian had no right to reunification services.
In re B. L.
filed April 6, 2012, Fourth District, Div. One
Cite as D060478
Full text click here

Filed: Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Because Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 1218.5 clearly states that each month for which payment of child support is not made in full "may be alleged as a separate count of contempt," Kellett v. Superior Court, 63 Cal. 2d 822 (1966)--requiring that "interrelated" acts of contempt be charged in a single proceeding--did not preclude payee from bringing new contempt proceeding based on nonpayment for months that could have been charged in prior proceeding but were not.
Rice v. Eaton
filed April 4, 2012, Third District
Cite as C066860
Full text click here

Filed: Thursday, March 29, 2012
Finding that mother's former boyfriend, who was listed as father on child's birth certificate, was a presumed father was unsupported by substantial evidence where he and mother never married or attempted to marry, he had lived with mother for just two weeks before and two weeks after child was born, and mother suspected that he was not biological father. Denial of presumed father status to man determined by genetic testing to be child's biological father was unsupported by substantial evidence where he sought paternity testing during mother's pregnancy, took mother to prenatal medical appointments, and offered to help with any associated expenses. His involvement with child ended only because mother cut off contact with him, his diligent efforts to obtain information about her were unsuccessful, and he diligently sought presumed father status during litigation.
In re D. A.
filed March 28, 2012, Second District, Div. One
Cite as 2012 S.O.S. 1477
Full text click here

Filed: Monday, March 19, 2012
Under the doctrine of disentitlement, mother forfeited her right to appeal from juvenile court's orders because she willfully left the jurisdiction with her children while Welfare and Institutions Code Sec. 300 petition was pending. Even though a warrant for her arrest had been recalled, her continued absence from the jurisdiction undermined and frustrated juvenile court's ability to implement the dependency law procedures intended to protect and benefit the interests of her children.
In re E. M.
filed March 19, 2012, Second District, Div. Five
Cite as 2012 S.O.S. 1292
Full text click here

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Note: Juvenile and Dependency Court Cases are not included

Los Angeles County Bar Association
2011-2012 Family Law Section Newsletter
FAMILY LAW SECTION eNEWS
Raymond Goldstein, Editor


SECTION OFFICERS EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBERS

Chair
Robert C. Brandt
Feinberg Mindel Brandt & Klein, LLP

Chair-Elect
Lynette Berg Robe
Law Offices of Lynette Berg Robe, APC

Vice Chair
Seth Kramer
Law Office of Seth D. Kramer

Treasurer
Ronald F. Brot
Brot & Gross, LLP

Secretary
Peter M. Walzer
Walzer & Melcher LLP

Immediate Past Chair
Debra S. Frank
Debra S. Frank, APLC

Section Administrator
Gail Coleman

Andrea Balian
Judy L. Bogen
Ram Cogan
Rose Marie Gallegos
Raymond R. Goldstein
Christiaan Gordon
Richard F. Gould-Saltman
Abbas Hadjian
Barbara K. Hammers
Paula Kane
David S. Karton
Marci Levine
Randy W. Medina
Doreen Marie Olson

Doreen Marie Olson
Parima Pandkhou
Cari M. Pines
Lucia A. Reyes
Claudia N. Ribet
David Shebby
Roslyn Soudry
Joseph P. Spirito
Jeff M. Sturman
Sorrell Trope
Heidi S. Tuffias
Charles Wake
Marshall Waller
David K. Yamamoto
JUDICIAL OFFICERS PAST CHAIRS PARTICIPATING ON THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

Hon. Marjorie S. Steinberg,
   Supervising Judge, Family Law
    Departments
Hon. Scott M. Gordon
   Assistant Supervising Judge, Family Law    Departments
Hon. John Chemeleski
Hon. Mark A Juhas
Hon. B. Scott Silverman

Roberta Bennett
Harold J. Cohn
James R. Eliaser
Debra S. Frank
Ira M. Friedman
William J. Glucksman
Lawrence E. Leone
Dvorah Markman
Leonard J. Meyberg Jr.
Glen Schwartz

LIAISONS

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