In 2009, there were several cases that were decided by the California Supreme Court, the appellate courts and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that issued important decisions during the past year that affect family law. Some of those are listed here.

A trial court that failed to consider the factors in Family Code sections 2030 and 2032 erroneously issued an attorney fee order in a custody matter, and made an error of law in issuing a second order in the same proceeding that reduced appellate costs that already were owed to a pro se litigant (In re Alan S.(2009) 172 CA4th 238, 91 CR3d 241);

A nonparent seeking to obtain custody of a child lacks standing to initiate or be joined in a custody proceeding under the Uniform Parentage Act (Scott v. Superior Court (2009) 171 CA4th 540, 89 CR3d 843);

A California court that initially awarded sole legal and physical custody of a 5 month old child to his father acquired exclusive and continuing custody jurisdiction under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and did not lose jurisdiction despite the child’s and parents’ residence in Pakistan and the parents’ various actions and litigation in Pakistan and California over a 6 year period (Marriage of Nurie (2009) 176 CA4th 478, 98 CR3d 200);

In a dispute between two parents having joint legal custody over where their child would attend school, the court is not required to apply a “strict scrutiny” constitutional analysis (Enrique M. v Angelina V. (2009) 174 CA4th 1148, 94 CR3d 883;

A custody order issued as part of a domestic violence proceeding is not a “final judicial custody determination,” and therefore a parent who seeks modification of that order need not show “changed circumstances,” but rather what is in the child’s best interest based on all the circumstances (Keith R. V. Superior Court (2009) 174 CA4th 1047, 96 CR3d 298);

Although it is improper to impute income formerly earned to a supporting party absent evidence demonstrating the party could still earn it, evidence of present earning capacity in present employment creates no basis to ignore those earnings (Marraige of Berger (2009) 170 CA4th 1070, 88 CR3d 766);

A disabled support obligor who provides proof of eligibility for or receipt of Social Security Disability Income payments is exempt from levy under Family Code sections 17450-17460 (Marriage of Hopkins (2009) 173 CA4th 281, 92 CR3d 570);

A post-separation agreement regarding the distribution of community property is void and unenforceable unless it is in writing or made by oral stipulation in open court (Marriage of Dellaria & Blickman-Dellaria (2009) 172 CA4th 196, 90 CR3d 802);

“Disturbing the Peace,” as used in Family Code section 6320, may include accessing, reading, and publicly disclosing a person’s confidential e-mails; allegations of physical violence are not required to support an application for a restraining order under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (Marriage of Nadkarni (2009) 173 CA4th 1483, 93 CR3d 723);

A trial court may not reduce spousal support on the ground that the supported spouse has become eligible to access, without penalty, his or her share of retirement accounts that were awarded to that spouse in a marital dissolution (Marriage of Dietz (2009) 176 CA4th 387, 97 CR3d 616).

There are many more cases that were decided and I will add them at a later date.

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