Family Law

Recent Family Law Cases

Recent Family Law Cases (current through 10/25/19)
[Opinions available at:  http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions-slip.htm]
By:  Stephen D. Hamilton, CFLS

Marriage & Annulment

Marriage of Goodwin-Mitchell & Mitchell
9/24/19, CA 1/3: A154915
https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/A154915.PDF

TCT grants W annulment based on fraud concluding H had not satisfied the “duty of fidelity and duty to live with one another wholly….” H was from Jamaica and allegedly had relationships outside the marriage and committed acts of DV during the marriage. However, after the infidelity and DV, W continued to live with H, and they continued their physical relationship. Reversed. Under FC 3310(d), “A marriage is voidable and may be adjudged a nullity if…the consent of either party was obtained by fraud, unless the party whose consent was obtained by fraud afterwards, and with full knowledge of the facts constituting the fraud, freely cohabited with the other as his or her spouse.”

Dependency

In Re J.M.
10/3/19, CA 2/5: B293382
https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B293382.PDF

Dependency petition filed alleging M & F abused drugs and engaged in domestic violence. M fled with children and their whereabouts were unknown for nine months.  After M returned, TCT dismissed petition because of lack of evidence of current risk of harms to Minors. Reversed. “‘The overarching goal of dependency proceedings is to safeguard the welfare of California’s children.’ (In re Nolan W. (2009) 45 Cal.4th 1217, 1228.)  Under the circumstances here, no substantial evidence supports the juvenile court’s decision to decline to assume jurisdiction over the Minors–effectively returning them without supervision to parents who were not even present for the jurisdiction hearing and had unaddressed drug use problems.”

Attorney Fees/FLARPL

Marriage of Bittenson
10/22/19, CA 2/6:  B288233
https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B288233.PDF

TCT issues pretrial order limiting family law attorney real property liens (FLARPL) as the full amount requested ($250,000) could impair the overall equal division of community assets and debts. Affirmed. FC 2034(c) permits TCT to reduce or limit a FLARPL after it has been recorded, and to resolve any dispute arising from the lien.  Decision notes that family law courts are courts of equity, and that any challenge of a discretionary trial court ruling is an “uphill battle.”

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