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House Sale Hijinks Cost Divorcing California Spouse Big Time

It’s important for spouses getting divorced to understand that the process is a legal matter that happens through the court system. As a recent case out of California’s Sixth District makes clear, judges take that process seriously. They’re not likely to take kindly to a spouse who disregards orders and tries to subvert the process.

houseHusband and Wife divorced in 2007, roughly two years after the couple first filed to dissolve their marriage. In the following year, a court found that the couple’s family home should be treated as community property and ordered that it be sold. California law generally treats any property obtained by one spouse during the course of a marriage as community property to be divided evenly in the event of divorce. In many cases, that means that the spouses must sell the property and divide the proceeds.

The court also hit Wife with more than $100,000 in sanctions for her “failure to cooperate in the disposition of the family residence, the principal asset of this community.” When the house still wasn’t sold in 2012, a judge again ordered Wife to help facilitate the sale. By that time, however, she had already transferred the property to an LLC owned by Wife and her new boyfriend. The company issued an eviction notice to Husband. It later filed paperwork listing Husband and Wife’s son as the company’s CEO.

Following additional litigation, a judge eventually ordered the property sold and the $500,000 in proceeds placed in a trust account. That was despite Wife’s refusal to sign documents related to the transaction. Wife then moved most of the proceeds out of the account without permission, according to the Sixth District. Husband’s attorney was later able to restore most of the money to the trust account.

Affirming the decision on appeal, the Sixth District said Wife and her company failed to provide “a record sufficient to explain the complex and convoluted factual and procedural history of this case.” It also rejected Wife and the company’s claims that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to force that the home be sold because they weren’t properly served in the case. As a result, the home’s sale was upheld, and the proceeds were ordered to remain in the trust, pending the outcome of additional litigation in the trial court.

What happens to the family house is just one of the many complicated legal issues that can come up when a couple decides to divorce. Although this case is an extreme example of how drawn out and contentious disputes over these issues can be, it’s also a good reminder of why a person who is thinking about getting divorced should consult an experienced family law attorney.

If you’re considering a divorce or are grappling with spousal support and other issues in California, contact San Jose divorce attorney John S. Yohanan. With more than 30 years of experience, Mr. Yohanan is an accomplished family law attorney who has helped a number of clients resolve a wide variety of marital disputes. Call our office at (408) 297-0700 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

Related blog posts:

Marital Home Issues in California Divorce Cases – In re Marriage of Moosa

Property Improvement and Division in California Divorce Cases – In re Marriage of Mussallem

Length of Marriage and Duty to Find Work in California Spousal Support Cases – In re Marriage of Swanson