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VOLUME 18 | NUMBER 3 | FALL 2020
 
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IN THIS ISSUE
 
Message from the Chair
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Message from the Editor
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Articles
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The Family Law Section
E-News
is published quarterly by the Family Law Section


E-NEWS COMMITTEE:

Erin McGaughey
Judge Diana Gould-Saltman
Tracy Katz
Jeremy Salvador
Linda Sheridan
Mitra Torabi
Steven Yoda

 

Message from the Chair

Paula Kane

The Family Law Section is proud to announce that Betty Nordwind is the recipient of the Spencer Brandeis Award this year. The Spencer Brandeis Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Family Law Section of the LACBA. The Award is presented, when deemed merited, to pay tribute to an individual who has had an extraordinary impact upon the advancement of family law by way of creative legal advocacy and commitment to the service of the family law community. The award is not given every year.

Betty embodies all of the qualities that the Spencer Brandeis Award stands for. She has been the Executive Director of the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law since 1987. As Executive Director, she has been responsible for and has overseen the growth of the Buhai Center from a fledging office of 4 persons and less than 35 volunteers to a strong community institution of over 20 staff members and 300 volunteers, providing legal service to more than 1,000 low income persons with family law and domestic violence matters in Los Angeles every year. Under Betty’s guidance, the Center has trained hundreds of lawyers and law students and has engaged in advocacy eliminating barriers to the courts. She has undertaken legislative efforts to change child support laws and practices in Los Angeles County and the State of California. She was responsible for the precedent-setting cases that challenged the LASC’s fees for mandatory Family Law mediations and the court’s denial of applications for waivers of court fees for those who could not afford such fees. As Executive Director of the Buhai Center, Betty has taught, mentored, and set an example for countless attorneys in Los Angeles practicing Family Law.

The Spencer Brandeis Award was created in 1989 and there have been 27 recipients since then. Betty is the fifth woman to receive the award. Ordinarily the Spencer Brandeis Award is bestowed at the Family Law Section annual Installation Dinner. Because of Covid restrictions, we will not be having such a dinner this year, however we do plan to have an Installation Zoom event during which we will give Betty her deserving award - Stay tuned for more information. Meanwhile, please join me in congratulating Betty on this very deserving award and to thank her for her indefatigable commitment to our community. Her work over the past 3 + decades has improved the practice of family law for both the Bar and the Bench.  

Paula Kane
LACBA Family Law Section Chair
2020/2021

 

Message from the Editor

Erin McGaughey

We would like to thank and acknowledge each of the following contributors for their exceptional work, time and effort: 

Paula Kane, Chair of the Family Law Executive Committee, prepared a message. Kevin Chroman, John Madden, Honorable Joseph Lipner, Honorable Lawrence Riff, and Wen Winny Yang for contributing articles.  Dawn Gray provided the case summaries. An index of the articles is on the left side of the page. Click on the article of interest and you will be taken directly to the article. A big thank you to Commissioner Boxer, Judge Dotson, Judge Giza, Judge Wayser and Judge Weiner and Judge Weingart for the taking the time to submit their Judicial Profiles. Also, a big thanks to Tom Horne and Kara Chikamori at LACBA for their work and support in publishing the E-News. I would also like to extend my appreciation to committee members Judge Diana Gould-Saltman, Kevin Chroman, Steven Yoda, and Jeremy Salvador.

We have included a link to the News Releases and Notices posted on the lacourt.org website for your convenience. 

We invite you to click on the links to our facebook, twitter and instagram pages. 

The original content presented below has been published after submission from members of the family law section and other family law professionals. Any member may submit a piece for publication, and I would encourage submissions from any member with original material they would like to share. As always, do not hesitate to contact us with your comments or suggestions.  

Erin McGaughey
Editor of the E-News
erin@mcgs-law.com

 
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LACBA E-News Case Summaries
DAWN GRAY
 

LACBA E-News Case Summaries

Rose Safarian v. Harry Govgassian, et al. (2020) 47 Cal.App.5th 1053, 261 Cal.Rptr.3d 473: In this case, the Second District reversed and remanded a decision of a Los Angeles County judge granting a protective order in favor of defendants in a fraud action brought by a husband and wife to stay the wife's enforcement of her interest in the judgment against the defendants. The panel held that a transmutation agreement that does not meet the requirements of Family Code §852 renders the agreement voidable by the parties, but not void. Therefore, because “the defendants are not parties to the marital property agreement, they cannot rely on section 852 to invalidate the agreement.”

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In re the Marriage of Mayela and Alberto Gutierrez (2020) 48 Cal.App.5th 877, 262 Cal.Rptr.3d 322: In this case, the Second District affirmed a Los Angeles County trial court’s judgment on various property issues. In particular, it held that Husband’s expert who testified that the bank had written off the mortgage on the former family residence lacked credibility, and held that Wife owed Husband half of the net value of the house, less the mortgage, as an equalization payment. It first held that the trial court was entitled to disbelieve his expert witnesses, holding that “(a) court is entitled, of course, to reject testimony from witnesses who tell a contradictory story.” It also affirmed the trial court’s imposition of sanctions for breach of fiduciary duty, holding that “(c)ouples dissolving their bonds thus must grasp the importance of candor. They, and their attorneys, must understand concealment will be costly and counterproductive.”

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Jennifer S. Lak v. Daniel K. Lak (Orange County Department of Child Support Services) (2020) 50 Cal.App.5th 581, 263 Cal.Rptr.3d 854: In this case, the Fourth District affirmed an Orange County temporary judge's denial of F's motion for clarification and reimbursement of amounts withheld from his SSDI payments for child support arrears.

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In re the Marriage of Carolyn Mullonkal and Sithaj Kidiyamplakkil (2020) 51 Cal.App.5th 604, 265 Cal.Rptr.3d 285: In this partially published opinion, the Third District reversed a Placer County trial court’s denial of reimbursement to the community under Family Code §2641 for funds used to pay off W’s educational loans incurred prior to marriage. “When a spouse pays off student loans for education attained before the marriage with funds from salary earned during the marriage, does a trial court have discretion under Family Code section 26411 to deny reimbursement to the community because the nonstudent spouse did not contribute to the repayment of the loans or otherwise contribute to expenses during the marriage? In the published portion of this opinion, we conclude that section 2641 does not permit such discretion.”

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In re the Marriage of Jessica R. and Martin H. Hein (2020) 52 Cal.App.5th 519, 266 Cal.Rptr.3d 150: In this case, the Fifth District reversed a Kern County trial court’s determination of a self-employed payor’s income for child support purposes. It held that the trial court improperly placed the burden of proof of showing that the business deductions H reported on his income tax returns to W, concluding “that considerations of public policy and fairness, informed by the judicial system’s experience in the cases involving the income and business expenses of a self-employed party, weigh in favor of assigning Martin the burden of proof on the factual questions that must be resolved to determine his business income and expenditures under section 4058 subdivision (a)(2).”

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In re Clifford Allen Brace, Jr. (2020) 9 Cal.5th 903: In this case, a California Supreme Court majority answered a question referred to it by the Ninth Circuit in a bankruptcy case. It said that “(t)he question here is whether the form of title presumption set forth in Evidence Code section 662 applies to the characterization of property in disputes between a married couple and a bankruptcy trustee when it conflicts with the community property presumption set forth in Family Code section 760.” The issue was whether W’s one-half interest in the real property became part of H’s bankruptcy estate. That issue depended on whether their acceptance of a deed to them both in joint tenancy from the prior owner of the property rendered the property community or jointly titled separate property for non-divorce purposes under pre-1985 law and/or post-1984 law. The high Court concluded that 

Family Code section 852 provides that for property acquired on or after January 1, 1985, a transmutation “is not valid unless made in writing by an express declaration that is made, joined in, consented to, or accepted by the spouse whose interest in the property is adversely affected.” (Fam. Code, § 852, subd. (a); see id., subd. (e).) We hold that under this rule, joint tenancy titling of property acquired by spouses using community funds on or after January 1, 1985 is not sufficient by itself to transmute community property into separate property. For joint tenancy property acquired between January 1, 1975 and December 31, 1984, the act of taking title as joint tenants is, in itself, insufficient to prove a transmutation; however, a court may consider the manner of taking title in determining whether the spouses had an oral agreement or common understanding. Finally, as noted, joint tenancy property acquired with community funds before January 1, 1975 is presumptively separate property.

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In re the Marriage of Manishkumar and Priyanka Ankola (2020) 53 Cal.App.5th 369, 267 Cal.Rptr.3d 569: In three consolidated cases, the Sixth District affirmed a Santa Clara County trial court's issuance of a DVRO in W's favor, reversed an order rescinding a prior award of attorney fees from W to H and affirmed the court’s denial of H's petition for nullity.

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In re the Marriage of Erica and Francis DeSouza (2020) 54 Cal.App.5th 25 266, Cal.Rptr.3d 890: In this case, the First District affirmed a San Francisco trial court's post-judgment order finding that H breached his fiduciary duties to W in connection with nondisclosures relating to community cryptocurrency and bitcoin transfers and losses. It rejected his arguments that his nondisclosures were not "material" and that there was no evidence that his breaches impaired W's interest in the assets.

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In re the Marriage of Ana and Carl Siva (2020) 53 Cal.App.5th 1170: In this case, a First District majority affirmed an Alameda County trial court's order awarding Jackson credits “for child support that respondent paid to petitioner for approximately 10 months while the parties' daughter lived full-time with respondent. Petitioner argues that the trial court impermissibly modified the parties' child support order retroactively. She also challenges the denial of her request for attorney fees and costs as sanctions under Family Code section 271. We find that the court had discretion to allow a credit for respondent's double-satisfaction of his child support obligations, and the court did not err by denying sanctions.”

 
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Judicial Profiles
 

Judge Gregory Weingart
Commissioner Doreen B. Boxer
Judge Joshua Wayser
Judge Kimberly Dotson
Judge Alex Giza
Judge Tim Wiener

 
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LASC News Releases and Notices
 

Congratulations to Carmen McDonald who received the Betty Fisher Award given by the Los Angeles County Domestic Violence Council.

Congratulations to Sonia Dujan who was recognized by LACBA for Hispanic Heritage Month for her contributions to the Hispanic community.

Family Law Departments Directory (Revised 11/2/20) - click here

New Ex parte rules - click here

LASC News Releases and Notices


 
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© 2020 Los Angeles County Bar Association Contact LACBA at msd@lacba.org

 


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