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If you intend to seek a divorce, it is essential that you retain an attorney who is knowledgeable in drafting settlement agreements, to avoid unknowingly agreeing to terms that may put you in an unfavorable position in the future. Even if an agreement seems appropriate under your current circumstances, it is important to consider how any change in circumstances could affect your obligations and rights under the agreement. The failure to properly allow for modifications in your favor in the future can result in an increase in financial obligations.

A California Court of Appeals recently held that a marital settlement agreement that required a substantial increase in a wife’s support obligation had to be followed despite a material change in circumstances.  If you wish to dissolve your marriage, it is in your best interest to consult a California divorce attorney as soon as possible, to assist you in seeking a settlement agreement that protects your rights now and in the future.

Facts Regarding the Marriage and Separation

Reportedly, husband and wife were married for over 18 years and had two children together. They separated in 2012 and in 2014 dissolved their marriage. A marriage settlement agreement (MSA) and post-judgment stipulation (PJS) were incorporated into the terms of the court’s order dissolving their marriage.  The MSA provided that the wife would pay the husband $850 in monthly spousal support, plus 10% of any income she earned per year in excess of $180,000. The MSA also provided that either party could petition the court to modify the spousal support, after which the court would be obligated to consider the income of the parties at the time of the separation. Additionally, the wife agreed to notify the husband if she changed jobs. The PJS subsequently reduced the amount of support payments owed by wife on a sliding scale.

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Under California law, any property obtained during a marriage is presumed to be community property. The California Family Code allows for parties to change community property to separate property in certain circumstances, however.

Recently, an appeals court in California held that an interspousal transfer grant deed contained the necessary language to constitute a transmutation of the character of marital property. If you intend to seek a divorce, you should meet with an experienced California divorce attorney to assess the nature of any property obtained by you or your spouse during the marriage.

Ownership of the Property in Question

The husband and wife married one another in January 2010. In May 2010, the wife reportedly purchased a condo. The deed from the seller allegedly transferred the condo to the wife as “a married woman as her sole and separate property.” That same month, the husband signed an interspousal transfer grant deed (ITGD) granting the condo to the wife as her sole and separate property. The money used for the down payment on the condo was from the husband’s separate bank account. The husband filed for divorce in August 2011. The wife claimed the condo was her separate property based on the ITGD. The husband insisted the condo should be his separate property, however, because he paid for the down payment.

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While some people think of a child as only having two parents, that is not always the case. Custody disputes can be acrimonious and complex, but when there are three parties seeking parental rights in a custody case, determining an appropriate custody arrangement can be especially complicated. The guiding concern in all custody cases, however, is what is in the best interest of the child.

In a recent case arising from a California Court of Appeals, the court held that due to the child’s bond with three different adults, each adult should be legally recognized as the child’s parent. If you and your child’s co-parent cannot agree on what custody arrangement is in your child’s best interest, you should retain a skilled California child custody attorney to assist you in your pursuit of a suitable custody agreement.

Factual Background 

Reportedly, the husband and wife in question were married when the wife conceived a child with her coworker. The husband and wife remained married but allowed the coworker to have a parenting role with the child. The child subsequently developed a bond with the coworker and his family. The husband and wife then excluded the coworker from the child’s life, after which the co-worker filed a lawsuit seeking parental rights.

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