Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal

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Fred Kamgar appealed a judgment ordering him to pay his wife Moira Kamgar $1,952,056.50 for breach of his spousal fiduciary duties in failing to disclose to her that he engaged in options trading, and traded an additional $8 million more than the $2.5 million in community assets she agreed he could trade in their investment account. The trial court determined Fred’s undisclosed and reckless trading resulted in a loss of almost $4 million, in addition to losing the initial $2.5 million. Fred contended the evidence did not support the conclusion he violated his fiduciary duties. Moira contended she was entitled to more than the $1.9 million award she received as her community interest in the $4 million loss. Finding the law and the evidence amply supported the trial court’s award, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "In re Marriage of Kamgar" on Justia Law

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Cynthia Vargas appealed a court order awarding father Christopher Ross primary physical custody of their minor children. Vargas was awarded temporary custody while Ross was deployed overseas. Upon his return, the issue of the children’s custody went to trial. Mother and father both testified at trial and numerous family court services reports, along with the mediators’ recommendations, were admitted into evidence. At the conclusion of trial, the court said if it were ruling on “straight best interest analysis, what’s in the best interest of [the children], my ruling would be that mother should be the primary custodial parent." However, the court found the case law interpreted the military deployment presumption in Family Code section 3047 to mean the children would return to the father once he returned. Mother argued the trial court misinterpreted section 3047, and the Court of Appeal agreed. The trial court was directed to evaluate the evidence and issue a custody order based on the best interest of the children, and consistent with the Legislature’s intent and the express terms of section 3047. View "In re Marriage of Vargas & Ross" on Justia Law

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H.C. a nonminor dependent of the juvenile court, appealed an order terminating her dependency case, contending the court erred by determining that H.C.'s marriage rendered her ineligible for nonminor dependency jurisdiction. H.C. contended the court erred by terminating her nonminor dependency case based on her marriage. The Court of Appeal found neither of the applicable statutes, state or federal, mentioned marriage. Rather, the statutes covered only a nonminor dependent's age, his or her relationship to the Agency, and his or her transitional living plan. A nonminor dependent's marriage does not necessarily affect any of those eligibility criteria. View "In re H.C." on Justia Law

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The family court has jurisdiction under Family Code section 6345, subdivision (a) to renew domestic violence restraining orders (DVROs) initially granted by the juvenile court. The Court of Appeal held that the legislative history of the Family Code and the Welfare and Institutions Code indicates the Legislature intended juvenile and family courts to work together to protect victims of domestic violence. The court explained that it construed both statutes broadly, avoiding a formalistic reading that would require domestic violence victims who receive a DVRO from the juvenile court to repeat the process in family court. In this case, the court reversed the family court's conclusion that it lacked authority to renew a DVRO granted by the juvenile court. View "Priscila N. v. Leonardo G." on Justia Law

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Husband Patrick Steiner was an active duty military service member and had a group life insurance policy issued under the Servicemen's Group Life Insurance Act of 1965 (the SGLIA). As part of a status-only dissolution judgment, Husband and Alicja Soczewko Steiner (Wife), stipulated to an order requiring Husband to maintain Wife as the beneficiary of all of Husband's current active duty survivor and/or death benefits pending further court order. Notwithstanding the stipulated order, Husband changed the beneficiary of his life insurance policy to Husband's sister, Mary Furman, who received the policy proceeds upon Husband's death. The court subsequently found applicable federal law preempted the stipulated order and Furman was entitled to the policy proceeds. Wife appealed, contending federal law did not preempt the stipulated order or, alternatively, the fraud exception to federal preemption applies. The Court of Appeal concluded to the contrary on both points and affirmed the order. View "Marriage of Steiner" on Justia Law

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Wife and Husband both appealed from the trial court's postjudgment orders enforcing one of the terms of the parties' stipulated judgment, which required an equalization payment from Husband to Wife following a joint appraisal of certain real property. The Court of Appeal agreed with wife's claims that the trial court erred in awarding interest on that payment from the date of the trial court's ruling rather than the date the payment was due, about 19 months earlier. Accordingly, the court reversed the trial court's orders only with respect to the date when interest on the equalization payment began to accrue. View "Dalgleish v. Selvaggio" on Justia Law

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A father objected to a California court order confirming the registration of an Italian child and spousal support order pursuant to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). On appeal, Father argued the trial court: (1) “misallocated to Father the burden of proving that Italy is not a state under UIFSA,” (2) “improperly deprived Father of an evidentiary hearing to refute the notion that Italy is such a state,” (3) “erroneously refused to render a statement of decision,” and (4) “erred as a matter of law in concluding that Italy is a state under UIFSA.” Finding no merit to these contentions, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order. View "Cima-Sorci v. Sorci" on Justia Law

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After a juvenile court has terminated its jurisdiction, the family court has jurisdiction over domestic violence orders and may issue a renewal. In this case, the juvenile court issued a protective order and enjoined defendant from specified acts of abuse, and the order remained effective after the juvenile court terminated its jurisdiction. The Court of Appeal held that the family court erroneously concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to renew plaintiff's restraining order and remanded to the trial court to apply Family Code section 6345 to determine if plaintiff was entitled to a five-year or permanent restraining order. View "Garcia v. Escobar" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's denial of father's request to reduce child support, finding that father controlled the Douglas Mae Trust, order requiring father to pay the requested orthodontic expenses, and grant of mother's sole authority to make decisions regarding the children's orthodontic care. The court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it allowed mother to reach the Trust to satisfy father's child support obligations and the trial court's earlier orders; the court rejected father's contention that the trial court erred by declining to vacate or reconsider an earlier statement of decision and order on mother's request for a turnover order and sanctions; and the court declined to enter father's requested order to conduct a hearing about whether mother converted company assets. View "Marriage of Furie" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Marla Hogue sought a restraining order under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act against her estranged husband, defendant Jerry Hogue, after moving back to California from Georgia. In April 2016, defendant made a special appearance through counsel to move to quash the action for lack of personal jurisdiction. The trial court granted the motion on April 27, 2016. Never having been served with notice of entry of the order, plaintiff timely filed her notice of appeal on October 21, 2016. Plaintiff contended California had jurisdiction over defendant because either his conduct came within the “special regulation” basis for specific jurisdiction, or otherwise justified specific jurisdiction as a continuing course of conduct commencing in California and thereafter directed toward California after defendant left the state. The Court of Appeal agreed with the former premise (which plaintiff conceded obviated the latter argument), and vacated the order quashing service. The Court remanded for consideration of the merits of her petition. View "Hogue v. Hogue" on Justia Law