Georgia Bar Journal – October : A Look at the Law
establishing a meretricious relationship include, but are not limited to: of Susan Ann Wendell, Appellee, And Concerning Jeffrey Alfred Wendell, Appellant . Wendell R., A.D.2d , , N.Y.S.2d , (4th Dept. may serve to rebut the presumption that a meretricious relationship continues. and meretricious spouses' in California, together with an analysis of the princi a party having such a belief is a putative spouse.3 No marriage ceremony is nec.
Coram s IRS tax refund. The court discussed at length the value of the community personal property. The court stressed several times its intent to globally reach an equitable distribution of all property by considering all property evidence and adjusting the effect of the pensions and personal property on the transfer payment.
CP at 68, It stressed the need to consider the separate and community interest in making the outcome more equitable to Mr. The court recognized the parties combined efforts on the real property despite the well-disciplined segregation of accounts. In Decemberthe court entered consistent findings of fact and conclusions 5 No. The court decreed Mr. Mair receive a 75 percent share of the community s interest in Ms. Coram s retirement account and all of his retirement account.
Coram moved to reconsider, arguing the court had failed to take into account her share of the community s interest in Mr. Mair s retirement account, failed to properly distribute the community s debts, and failed to consider several debts had been incurred solely by Mr. She argued the court incorrectly calculated the personal property values and failed to assign value to Mr. Mair s personal property. The court granted partial reconsideration, amending its findings of fact and conclusions of law.
The court clarified that the judgment balanced the personal property distributions by allowing Mr. The final judgment separately reflected Mr. In Februarythe court entered its amended dissolution decree. Black Lake Property Characterization Mr. Mair s cross-appeal issue is whether the trial court erred in characterizing the Black Lake property as Ms.
Coram s separate property. He contends the trial court incorrectly assumed it was separate property, not community property. Mair did not preserve this issue for appeal under RAP 2. But, the record shows Mr. Mair did argue the Black Lake property was community property at trial.
He relied on that theory in his response to Ms. Coram s reconsideration motion. Mair counters that because Ms. Coram was precluded from arguing separate property at trial, she should be similarly precluded from arguing separate property here. But the trial court recited its independent evidence review when considering property characterization issues, and we review its decision in that light.
Coram next contends Mr. Mair failed to properly assign error to the trial court s characterization of the Black Lake property; thus, the court s separate property determinations should be verities on appeal.
Mair acknowledges his cross-appeal was deficient for failing to follow RAP However, it is clear from Mr. Mair s brief what findings he is challenging. Further, we may excuse a party s failure to assign error to specific findings of fact when the briefing makes the nature of the challenge clear and the challenged finding is argued in the text of the brief.
We review the trial court s distribution of property for an abuse of discretion. In re Marriage of Brewer, Wn. A court abuses its discretion if its decision is manifestly unreasonable or based on untenable grounds or reasons. In re Marriage of Fiorito, Wn. The trial court s distribution of the property and liabilities of the parties must appear just and equitable after considering all relevant factors.
Those factors include the nature and extent of the separate and community properties and the duration of the marriage. In applying these factors, the court first must characterize the marital property as either separate or community. In re Marriage of Griswold, Wn.
The trial court s classification of property as separate or community is a question of law reviewed de novo. In re Marriage of Skarbek, Wn. We find no error in the trial court s characterization reasoning. Characterization of property as community or separate is not controlling in division of property between the parties in a dissolution proceeding, but the court must have in mind the correct character and status of the property. Although all property before the court is capable of division to reach a just and equitable result, where there is mischaracterization, the trial court will not be affirmed unless the reasoning of the court clearly indicates that the court would have divided the property in the same way in the absence of the mischaracterization.
In re Marriage of Shannon, 55 Wn. Property acquired during an equity relationship is presumed to be communitylike, but the presumption is rebuttable. The fact that title is in the name of one of the parties does not, in itself, rebut the presumption of common ownership. While the parties seem to agree they lived together beginning inthe court is not bound to agree.
marriage relationship duration | US Judgments | Law | CaseMine
The court noted the parties efforts to maintain separate and independent financial status during both their early relationship and after marriage. The court acted within its discretion in deciding their early relationship did not rise to the level it required for equity relationship status. In a marriage context, a community property presumption must be overcome by clear and convincing evidence. In re Marriage of Janovich, 30 Wn.
We find no distinction between Ms. Coram s unchallenged separate acquisition of the home property and her separate acquisition of the Black Lake property. Even assuming a mistaken characterization for the Black Lake property because it was purchased during the couple s early relationship, and further assuming the property to be community-like, we would have to disregard the trial court s credibility and weight determinations concerning Ms.
Coram s testimony and its clear intent to make an equitable distribution based on its global view of the evidence; this we will not do. While the fruit of all labor performed by either party during an equity relationship is 9 No. Moreover, it is unlikely the court would have divided the property in any other way even if it mischaracterized the Black Lake property because it clearly stressed its intent to take a global view of the property evidence to reach an equitable distribution of assets and liabilities for Mr.
Black Lake Property Loan Ms. Coram s first issue is whether the trial court erred in distributing all the Black Lake community debt to her. She contends the evidence clearly shows the loan funds were used to pay off credit card and other financial obligations incurred solely by Mr. Mair and for his benefit alone.
As discussed above, the trial court s distribution of property and liabilities is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. Debts incurred during the marriage are presumed community debt. The presumption is rebuttable by clear and convincing evidence that the debt was not for 10 No. Here, during the marriage, Mr. It is presumed community debt. It was used for community benefit because it paid off other community debts. Furthermore, although the couple generally managed their finances separately, even Mr.
Mair s credit card debt was presumably community debt. In its oral ruling, the trial court reasoned that although Mr. Mair took out the loan and paid debts on his separate objects, Ms.
Coram received benefit because Mr. Mair paid the community s IRS debts. The court elaborated, The assets are going to carry their own liabilities here, and that would provide a cleaner resolution.
We cannot say the court abused its broad discretion in equitably distributing the loan on the Black Lake property to Ms. Moreover, the court s overall allocation of community debts was nearly equal.
Valuations The issue is whether the trial court erred in its property valuations. First, we consider Ms. Coram s contentions concerning the Black Lake property. Mair s beneficial use of the cabin. The right to reimbursement is an equitable remedy, intended to assure the owner of separate property is not unjustly enriched at the expense of the community. The right of reimbursement may be offset if the court finds the community realized a reciprocal benefit for its use and enjoyment of the separately owned property.
See In re Marriage of Miracle, Wn. Coram did not argue Mr. Mair s right of reimbursement should be offset by his use and enjoyment of the property. Rather, she argued the value of the property was not actually increased by the cabin; therefore, the community was not entitled to reimbursement.
She makes the same argument when challenging the court s cabin valuation. The property valuation decided in a marital dissolution is a material and ultimate fact that we review for substantial evidence. In re Marriage of Crosetto, Wn.
In re the Marriage of Judith Wendell Coram and Robert Hugh Mair
Substantial evidence exists if the record contains evidence of a sufficient quantity to persuade a fair-minded, rational person of the truth of the declared premise. The court s valuation findings must be, as here, within the range of credible evidence.
In re Marriage of Sedlock, 69 Wn. We do not substitute our judgment over the trial court s judgment on a disputed factual issue such as the valuation of property or judge witness credibility. In re Marriage of Greene, 97 Wn. When parties offer conflicting evidence in valuation of property, a trial court considering a property division may adopt the value asserted by either party or any value between the two.
In re Marriage of Rockwell, Wn. A trial court does not abuse its discretion by assigning values to property within the scope of evidence. In re Marriage of Soriano, 31 Wn. Accordingly, it found Mr. Yet, the court found the best use of the property would be to remove the cabin, implicitly reasoning the cabin had no practical value. Accordingly, substantial evidence supports the court s findings which in turn support its conclusion of law that Mr.
Though the court did not take into account Mr.
- Meretricious Relationships
Mair s use of the cabin, Ms. The Washington State Supreme Court clarified the requirements. In Re Pennington, Wn. A meretricious relationship is a stable relationship evidenced by such nonexclusive factors as cohabitation, duration, purpose, pooled resources, mutual services, and intent of the parties.
Distribution of property acquired during a meretricious relationship is subject to a three-part test: It is important to note the primary difference between divorce and this relationship designation. With a divorce, there is a legal document immediately proving the relationship exists but in the case of a Meretricious Relationship, it must be proven that the relationship meets the designated requirements outlined above and this takes the knowledge of a skilled attorney to accomplish.
This must also be accomplished before you can even get into issues of custody or asset division. Once the relationship has been determined to meet the criteria to be considered a Meretricious Relationship by the court, they will then evaluate the interest each party has in the property acquired during the relationship and then determine a just and equitable distribution of that property. In dividing the property and other assets, the court will turn to community property laws for guidance.
Meretricious Relationship and child custody Matters become even more complicated when the relationship has resulted in the birth of children. If you are the parent of a child created in a meretricious relationship, it is absolutely critical that you retain a family law attorney to assist you in protecting your parental rights.
In its time it led a revolution in the law of determination of parentage, paternity actions and child support. A child whose mother was not married was an illegitimate child under the common law.
The father of an illegitimate child was burdened neither with rights nor obligations. He could be subject to an action for limited damages the costs of delivering the baby for the most part in an action that was quasi-criminal, not a civil action.