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Appealing a California Divorce Order – In re Marriage of Lak

If you’re unhappy with the outcome of a divorce case, you have the legal right to file an appeal. As the Fourth District Court of Appeal recently explained, however, the burden is on you to present sufficient evidence detailing where the original court went wrong.

gavel-2-1409592-mWife filed a motion seeking to dissolve her marriage with Husband in February 2009, and a trial court granted the divorce more than two years later. It also ordered Husband to pay certain amounts of monthly child and spousal support. Following additional proceedings, Husband filed a motion to set aside the order, arguing that Wife significantly understated her income level in order to get more support money out of him.

The trial court denied the motion as untimely. Family Code Section 2122(b) provides that an action alleging perjury must be brought within one year from when the person discovered or should have discovered that the other party committed perjury.

On appeal, the Fourth District said Husband simply didn’t present enough evidence to show that Wife lied about her income. The Court explained that the burden was on Husband, as the party appealing the decision, to show that the trial court’s ruling was incorrect. “The appellant has the burden of affirmatively demonstrating error by providing the reviewing court with an adequate record,” the Court said. It further noted that “the reviewing court presumes the judgment of the trial court is correct…”

In this case, the Court said that the standard of review meant that the Court had to presume that the evidence in the record before the trial court was sufficient to support its findings because Husband didn’t produce a transcript of the proceedings or a statement summarizing the evidence. In other words, it had to assume that the motion to set aside the trial court’s support order was untimely.

Husband admitted that he sought the motion to set aside the order more than two years after Wife allegedly committed perjury. He argued that the action was timely, however, because he didn’t become aware of the perjury until much later. But the Court said there was no evidence to support this allegation. Nor was there evidence on which the Court could find that Husband shouldn’t have been aware of the alleged perjury earlier. Instead, it presumed that the lower court’s ruling was based on sufficient evidence.

“[I]n the absence of an evidentiary record, the trial court’s first ground for denying the motion is simply unassailable, and we have no choice but to affirm the order on that ground,” the Court said.

As this case shows, evidence issues can have a significant impact on the outcome of a California divorce case. That’s why it’s vital that a person considering a divorce seek the advice and counsel of an experienced attorney. San Jose divorce lawyer John S. Yohanan has extensive experience handling a wide range of divorce issues, including those related to support payments and income valuation. If you want a family lawyer with more than 30 years of experience on your side, call our office at (408)297-0700 or contact us online.

Related blog posts:

Much Ado About Inheritance in California Divorce Case – In re Marriage of Taylor

California Parents Enforcing Child Custody Orders After the Child Has Reached the Age of Eighteen — Williams v. Cavers

California Divorce, Pensions, and Property Division — In Re Marriage of Green

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