Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal

by
Upon ending their marriage, respondent Craig Martin (husband) agreed to pay appellant Cynthia Martin (wife) spousal support for a period of four years. After discovering that wife had remarried, husband stopped paying spousal support and requested reimbursement of the total amount he had paid since her remarriage. The trial court granted husband’s request and entered an order requiring wife to repay $27,000, plus $2,700 in attorney fees. Wife challenged the postjudgment order arguing that husband’s spousal support obligation did not terminate by operation of law upon her remarriage because the parties had agreed in writing that Family Code section 4337 would not apply. After review, the Court of Appeal agreed with wife and reversed the order of the trial court. View "Marriage of Martin" on Justia Law

by
Appellant Elizabeth Wong appealed nonappealable orders and the trial court erred by staying its proceedings pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 916(a). The Court of Appeal remanded this case for: (1) the trial court to proceed immediately with a trial on the merits; and (2) the trial court to exercise close scrutiny of any additional appellate stays of trial posited by appellant based on appeals from orders entered prior to a final disposition of the merits in this dispute. View "Marriage of Wong" on Justia Law

by
Appellant F.C. (mother) appealed a juvenile court’s order removing her four children from her custody Mother challenged the sufficiency of the evidence to support the court’s findings that the previous placement with her was ineffective in protecting or rehabilitating the children and that removing the children from her custody was necessary to prevent substantial danger to them. She also argued the court failed to consider reasonable alternatives to removal. After review of the specific facts of this case, the Court of Appeal concluded substantial evidence supported the court’s findings and dispositional order as to the supplemental petitions. The Court therefore affirmed the judgment. View "In re D.D." on Justia Law

by
After mother asked her doctor to help her stop using cocaine, the doctor referred the family to DCFS. The Court of Appeal held that the juvenile court correctly asserted jurisdiction over mother and daughter based on mother's admitted use of cocaine and a reckless driving conviction mother sustained shortly before the dependency proceedings commenced. In this case, mother gave conflicting stories about the length and extent of her substance abuse, successfully hid her substance abuse from her relatives so as not to disappoint them, continued to test positive for cocaine even after the detention hearing, and had not enrolled in a substance abuse program by the June 28, 2018 adjudication hearing. View "In re L.W." on Justia Law

by
A person with autism is not automatically a candidate for a limited conservatorship. The Court of Appeal affirmed an order establishing a limited conservatorship of O.B., a person with autism spectrum disorder, and appointing her mother and elder sister as conservators. In this case, the court held that substantial evidence supported the establishment of a limited conservatorship of O.B.'s person where the mother testified that O.B. lacked the capacity to perform some of the tasks necessary to provide properly for her own personal needs. Furthermore, the probate court's personal observations of O.B. contributed to the substantial evidence in support of its findings. The court also held that the probate court did not violate principles of conservatorship law where it considered O.B.'s personal preferences, and the probate court did not prejudge the case. View "Conservatorship of O.B." on Justia Law

by
Assuming fraudulent intent, the Uniform Voidable Transactions Act, formerly known as the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (UFTA), can apply to a premarital agreement in which the prospective spouses agree that upon marriage each spouse's earnings, income, and other property acquired during marriage will be that spouse's separate property. In this case, plaintiff obtained a judgment in bankruptcy court against defendant. Plaintiff alleged a single cause of action under UFTA to set aside the alleged transfer of defendant's community property interest in the wife's earnings and income. The trial court sustained defendant's demurrer and found that defendants were entitled to alter the presumptions under Family Code 760 and Family Code 910 that property acquired during the marriage is community property and that the community estate would be liable to satisfy any judgments against defendant. The Court of Appeal reversed in light of the legislative language, history, and the strong policy of protecting the creditors from fraudulent transfers. Therefore, the court held that the Legislature must have intended that UFTA can apply to premarital agreements in which the prospective spouses agree that each spouse’s earnings, income, and property acquired during marriage will be that spouse's separate property. View "Sturm v. Moyer" on Justia Law

by
In this divorce proceeding involving disputes over the characterization of community property assets, the Court of Appeal held that the trial court did not err by adopting husband's tracing, which was adequate and satisfied his burden of proving his separate property. The court also held that the trial court's findings that husband did not breach fiduciary duties when he used community property funds to establish an irrevocable life insurance trust for the benefit of the children were supported by substantial evidence. The court held that the trial court abused its discretion when it retrospectively modified 2014 pendente lite child and spousal support, because it based the modification on the parties' 2013 tax returns, rather than their 2014 tax returns, which were then available. Accordingly, the court reversed in part and remanded for recalculation of the awards and the spousal support award. View "Marriage of Ciprari" on Justia Law

by
M.F., the son of Nicole W. and Stephen C., appealed orders at the 12-month review hearing under Welfare & Institutions Code section 366.21 (f) directing the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency to extend the reunification period for an additional six-month period and setting the 18-month review hearing more than 23 months from the date he first entered foster care. M.F. challenged the juvenile court's finding that Agency did not provide reasonable services to his father. He also contended the juvenile court lacked authority to order continued services beyond the 18-month review date absent special circumstances not present here. The Court of Appeal concluded there was substantial evidence to support the juvenile court's finding that reasonable services were not provided or offered to the parent, that the juvenile court was authorized to extend reunification services up to the 24-month review date if the court determined reasonable services were not provided or offered to the parent, and the juvenile court was not required to consider the need for a continuance under section 352 when extending services. View "In re M.F." on Justia Law

by
In this child custody dispute, the trial court imposed $50,000 in sanctions jointly and severally against an attorney and her client for disclosing information contained in a confidential child custody evaluation report. The Court of Appeal affirmed in part and held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by imposing sanctions on the attorney. In this case, the attorney intentionally asked questions regarding a child custody evaluation that included a psychological evaluation which disclosed highly personal information about the child and her family. The court concluded that the attorney's actions were reckless. However, the court reversed in part and held that there was nothing in the record to suggest that the client directed or even encouraged the attorney to disclose privileged information. View "Anka v. Yeager" on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's judgment denying defendant's request from relief from default under Code of Civil Procedure section 473, subdivision (b), two orders granting motions to quash subpoenas filed by plaintiff, and an order denying her request under Family Code section 7605 that plaintiff pay her attorney fees. After defendant gave birth to a daughter who was born with heroin in her system, the child was detained by DCFS. Plaintiff, the father, then petitioned to establish parental relationship, and defendant was found in default after she failed to respond to the petition. The court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that section 473, subdivision (b)'s mandatory provision was only mandatory unless the trial court found that the default or dismissal was not in fact caused by the attorney's mistake, inadvertence, surprise or neglect; the trial court did not abuse its discretion by granting plaintiff's motions to quash VISIONS and Cedars-Sinai subpoenas; the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied defendant's request for attorney fees; and there was no error in the trial court's orders that required reversal of the judgment. View "Darab N. v. Olivera" on Justia Law